Money & The Economy

Optimize Your Dollar: Making Tough Choices

This week I talked to my friend “Dee”.

Dee has been through some trials due to the continued poor economy.optimize your dollar 1

Three years ago Dee was working in the career she loves. She was teaching young children at a private school. Unfortunately, the economy caused her school to make a tough choice. They closed. It was no one’s fault (well, you could blame the Obama administration but…) Parents were losing their jobs, had hours reduced or took pay cuts; homes were upside down and there just wasn’t enough money to send kids to school when there were charter and neighborhood schools available at no cost.

Dee, like so many others, had been living on a shoestring. Everything was very finely balanced; the paycheck just matched the bills. So when the school told Dee they would be closing the end of May and that there would be no unemployment available well, you can imagine. Suddenly, expenses were more than income.

Of Hispanic descent, raised in Texas, Dee was familiar with being poor. After her mother died her father took over both roles. A landscaper, who often worked two jobs, he taught the children the importance of education carefully monitoring their school work and pushing them to go further than he. This desire that the children lived a better life meant Dad often had to make very tough choices.

The teacher cuts were statewide that year. My friend had to swallow her pride and accept assistance from the Salvation Army and the Catholic food bank. She cut her cable television and then the internet and then the phone. Finally, she found a new position. Unfortunately, the pay was less.  When her young adult daughter lost her part time job due to the economy they made one more tough choice. They had to give up their car.

100_0923 (1024x768)For Dee the past two years have been a challenge. But things are improving. She found a coworker nearby who would give her a ride to work. Her daughter eventually found a job at a discount store close enough that she could ride her bike.

Going back to her roots, Dee began cooking from scratch and found her crock pot to be invaluable once she returned to work. They also decided that eating out would be reserved for special treats. The family decided they could continue to live without cable television and now weekly visits the local library for free movies and books.

This week when we talked Dee said the family no longer needs to use the food bank to help with their groceries. And she is starting to save money so she can buy a car with cash. She doesn’t want to worry again about making payments.

Some people might choose to run up the credit cards during challenging times. Dee instead chose to make some tough choices. As this family gets back on its feet I know they are glad that they’ve got their bills in check.

If you have suggestions to stretch your shopping dollar or questions please let me know.


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Teresa Wendt

A stay at home mom who runs a household, manages the finances, cares for a young adult autistic son, and cooks from scratch. Traveling from Arizona to Alaska summer of 2013. Visit my blog at and follow along.

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