Hi all,

For those of you who are new to the list and haven't met me, I'm one
of the moderators and the Ethnic Inexpensively columnist for
Budget101, the website <http://www.budget101.com>.

Tonight, I passed through a few posts related to worries about
finances, and it hit me that my own story might help some of you who
are in squeaking straits. I'm not going to repost it here, however,
because I've done so several times before. Since we're trying to
make the archives tighter because of the size of the archives
(Budget101_ has a very small space to work with in contrast to other
lists), it just wouldn't be fair of me to post it yet again. But
please take time to go to the list archives
<http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Budget101_/> and, in the left hand
column, look for Files and click on that. You'll find the archives
there.

I'm a single mom with two boys, ages 13 and 15, still at home with
me. For roughly two years, we survived on $50 a month for food
because I was determined to make it without help from the state.
Even though your family size may differ from ours, I believe you'll
find the courage, determination, and, hopefully, the creative
inspiration to make the impossible for a food budget work for you.

Finally, I suppose I could give you some old sayings, the clichés
everyone has heard about 'if it doesn't kill you, it'll make you
stronger,' but those are clichés, and I honestly don't believe they
are the most comforting words to hear. For me, one of the ways we
survived that tight budget was in my belief that it was only going
to be for a short time. If you haven't been to see my column at the
Budget101 website, do take time to do it. You'll find recipes that
are geared for tight. You'll also find some recipes here with the
same squeaking in mind.

My post, message #6281 in the archives, contains several posts in one.
In that post, there are also some recipes; but don't stop with my
post. I don't always have a chance to post as frequently as I have
in the past. In message #6282, for example, you'll find my recipe
for Chicken and Dumplings, and I know Mickey has tried it and can
vouch for that one. But most of my cooking is indeed ethnic, heavy
on the Chinese and Italian, in fact.

In my last Ethnic Inexpensively column, I shared my recipe for Penne
Rigate with Tuna Sauce, and it's a meal fit for a king--and cheap! I
can serve four with that meal usually for (depending on sales) under
$2.00. (For those who are wondering, my next column will be on cool
summer drinks. I've held off on this one so our readers in the land
down under can start thinking ahead to their summer while our Northern
readers can enjoy them now.)

Now, that said...some wise advice, I believe:

1. Don't panic! If you panic, you'll lose your perspective and will
be more likely to make buying or budgeting mistakes, not to
mention the huge amount of increased tension you'll have. You're
already tense. Let's start from there.
2. Sit down and snip where you can. Are you writing your budget
down so you can actually see the facts and figures on paper? Is
a car necessary for work, or is it close enough to bike or walk?
(Don't freak! lol I'm simply trying to help you put this into
perspective. )
3. Consider what you can do creatively to feed the family. Those
overripe bananas may indeed be used for banana bread or cake, but
they're also ideal for Banana French Toast (recipe in the
archives or on Budget101's website). That little bit of rice and
small amount of hamburger (too small for a meatloaf) can make a
wonderful and filling rice soup (believe it or not) called Jook,
or Congee, or you can use the meat with rotelle for Motorcycle
Stew.
4. The holidays are coming, and I'm sure that's adding to your
panic. What creative things can you do now to anticipate for
the holidays on no money? Budget101_ and the website for
Budget101 have wonderful ideas that will surprise you for the
cost.
5. ***Don't*** think poor! You are not poor, not even temporarily!
You're being creative, innovative, and determined to get through
a rough spot. Poor is a state of mind (yes, I know your purse
strings are threadbare for now), just as happiness, sadness, and
so on are. I know. You are probably thinking, "What does *she*
know about our budget? Well *she* (me) knows because I'm the
mother of four who learned this the hard way and we not only
survived it, we thrived. For two years, I was paying 0 in

rent, $90 for the phone, $50 for food because that's all I had to
work with. Much of the hurdle of getting through this challenge
lies in how you're looking at the situation. Our parents or
grandparents did it in the Depression of 1929, and each of us can
too if we need to. It's just...no offense anyone...we humans
have a tendency to be spoiled by the good times and think we're
supposed to live that way all the time. That's well and good,
but a wonderful poet, Kahlil Gibran, in his book, _The Prophet_
wrote, "The deeper sorrow carves into your being, the more joy
you can contain." If we didn't know the good times, we couldn't
recognize the rough ones. You will survive this. You simply
need to be creative for a bit--more than usual. Think good
things; continue to put your makeup on and do *not* allow the
way you're dressed to reflect if you've had a rough day or have
begun to allow your emotions to be controlled by your purse.

Enough! lol I've said enough. My hope was to help you through this
and to let you see that you can do this. Sure it takes a bit of
courage and determination and the fortitude to put a smile on your
face each day. If *you* have a smile on your face and possess an air
of faith that you can do this, your family will find it easier to
cope as well.

Start reading the archives and soaking in the Budget101 website too.
You'll find ideas galore!

I hope this helps, and please keep us posted.

Warmly,
Michelle (Broome County, NY, where, yes, we were part of the blackout)
Budget101_ moderator and Ethnic Inexpensively moderator