Last week I saw a notice on What’s Happening in Burney for the Smart About Money program at Tri-C0unties Community Network. I posted a comment saying that I would go to this because I need to get smart about money.
So today, at 10 a.m. Linda and I went. It was very worthwhile and very enjoyable. The meeting was held in the upstairs meeting room. About 20 people were present, ranging from children to senior citizens, including whites, Latinos, and Native Americans.
Daniel Lockwood did a wonderful job of teaching and facilitating the meeting. He illustrated the information that he shared with stories from his life.
Topics included avoiding debt, budgeting, savings, discerning between wants and needs, ways to shop economically, and the advantages of preparing meals from scratch, with suggestions for economical meals.
The people who participated were attentive and shared openly with a warm-hearted sense of humor. Every topic was illustrated with examples from the audience or from Daniel. That made it real.
For example, when Daniel asked what “wants” we had given up so we would have money to meet our needs, I responded that we have been traveling less and that I had switched from cigarettes to filtered cigars because they are much less expensive and I smoke less of them.
No one wants to be broke, Daniel said, but when one is down and out there are two benefits. First, it helps us to appreciate the times when we are flush. Secondly it helps us to have empathy.
Daniel illustrated this by telling a story of how his brother and he had had a car accident in Mexico and been helped by a Mexican who went two hours out of his way to take them to a hospital. The man said that he had stopped because previously he had had an accident and had to wait by the road all night for help. He knew how it felt.
I also thought of Jesus statement in the Sermon on the Mount. “Blessed are those who are poor and recognize their dependence upon God.”
Every one who attended received a $25 gift card that could be used for groceries at Safeway – good for everything except for alcohol and tobacco products. People are eligible to receive a card once every six months.
Smart About Money will continue every Wednesday as long as the funding for the cards lasts.
One of the things I learned was that it is good to budget one’s money each month. In a short video that was shown, a man explained that there is no perfect budget. Every month is new and different. So it is a good idea to sit down and the beginning of each month, assess one’s finances, and create a budget that fits the current month’s circumstances.