Memories and Musings: Manipulating the delicate dollar

Published 5:37 pm Wednesday, October 26, 2022

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By Gene Gallelli

I admit it, I use coupons however they come: mailed, electronically, in newspapers and, occasionally, those left in the grocery store. Why not?! Although I’m not yet at the point of shopping with an alphabetized index folder in my noisy cart, hats off to those that do.

Making choices in any economic situation is difficult, more so for some than others – perhaps not at all for a few.

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Covid set us all on our heels, seriously complicating any and all of life’s challenges while leaving a world landscape shrouded in dust and despair. Most of us admit that the pandemic forced some changes in our thinking and, yes, our lifestyles. It certainly did mine.

I didn’t always go for a walk, go to the bank, visit the post office, pharmacy and grocery store during the same trip, but I do now. And I can accomplish most of the aforementioned tasks from the same parking spot. Like many others, I almost always try to shop locally, but more so now than before; it makes sense for many economic and social reasons. And when I occasionally “give in” to going out for lunch, there is no shortage of fine restaurants nearby.

(I do encourage community members to adopt the “shop locally” habit.)

Has it made a difference? Without a doubt or hesitation, doing everything locally on the same day has significantly reduced the number of times per month I have to visit the gas pumps. (I admit I often use the savings for an occasional treat, like lunch at a restaurant close to home.)

While I would “never” make the claim that my way is the best way to do anything – that’s proselytizing – my guilt meter buzzes when I waste anything, especially food. Growing up, we regularly had pasta twice a week and if there were still leftovers, we had it three times that week. (It’s amazing how differently a little leftover Sunday sauce can taste when you have the option of putting in on either spaghetti, linguini, angel hair, rigatoni, penne, ziti, fettuccine, pappardelle and many more types of pasta.)

In my opinion, being economical includes paying homage to the simple things in life and their inherent versatility. For example, a pound of hamburger or a dozen eggs: meat loaf and scrambled eggs don’t even begin to scratch the surface of the endless possibilities of both staples. Does that mean you cannot ever treat yourself? Heck, no! Do it with the money saved on gas.

I still believe most of us were raised eating what mom put on our plates. Who can’t remember her saying things like, “Just take a bite of the broccoli! You won’t know if you like it if you don’t try it.” (I bet many of the foods you made faces at as a child are now some of your favorites; they are with me.)

Yes, times are tough! And it’s frustrating feeling that as an individual there’s little you can do about it. (That power is enhanced when “I or me” thinking becomes “we or us” thinking.)

In my opinion, enhancing our lives isn’t a function of whether blue or red is our favorite color or on which side of the aisle we prefer sitting at concerts. It’s doing the right things, at the right times and for the right reasons.

Like I mentioned before: if you want to shop with a file full of coupons in your cart, go for it. Just remember we still have options during difficult times. Coming out ahead of current reality depends on the choices we make with those options.

So, choose wisely.

Gene Gallelli was Associate Superintendent of the Dare County Schools for eight years. He received his Doctor of Education degree from East Carolina University, where he taught and supervised students studying to become school administrators.



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