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Everyday Cheapskate: Faith in the Face of Darkness

Mary Hunt on

Have you ever felt like you're supposed to be learning a lesson but don't know what it is? I know that feeling in a way that I hope I will never forget.

Not once but twice in a single month, the power went out at our home. The first time, a drunken, inexperienced 17-year-old driver plowed into a major utility pole in our neighborhood, turning it into kindling. Down it came, along with power to 4,300 homes. The driver was fine, but I cannot vouch for the state of her teenage freedom in the aftermath of making such terrible choices. Utility crews worked tirelessly for 22 hours to restore power.

The second event affected the very same 4,300 homes. High winds met with high-tension wires, resulting in a high-priced transformer blowing up. Apparently, the crew got a lot of practice the first time around. Power was restored within two hours.

I now know complete darkness. Pitch-black, dark-enough-to-see-stars kind of darkness (a phenomenon not experienced often in a brightly lit metropolitan area). It's eerie for sure.

In my heart and mind, I know where things are placed in the house. I should be able to navigate with little trouble. But my feet don't believe. I know there are exactly 13 steps on the staircase. I'm up and down them dozens of times in a day. I can do it with my eyes closed! But take away the light and I'm a stumblebum.

Why can't we trust what we know to be true just because it's dark? It's our human frailty. It's our lack of faith, our hesitancy to trust what we cannot see with our own eyes.

You may feel like you are stumbling around in the darkness of your pathetic financial situation. You know your expenses should fit within your income, but that never happens. You really are in the dark.

"Debt-Proof Living" is the title of my book, but also it is a way of life. Debt-proof living means living below your means. It's having a plan and living the plan that allows you to get out of debt and plan for the future. It is the way you can begin to "restore power" in your life. Little by little, the lights start coming on.


I am still learning lessons from our experience with darkness. First, I know exactly where the wind-up lantern is at all times. I've learned that it produces great light but not for very long before it needs to be rewound.

I know exactly where the wind-up radio is and how to use it. I know our heavy-duty, super 4D battery flashlight works great and for a long time (spare batteries in the right-hand drawer). And I know the battery in my backup computer is shot. Memo to self: Order a new battery.

Since those two events that left us in total darkness, my husband and I have taken significant disaster preparation steps. We've invested in a generator. We have solar panels, as well as emergency food and water.

But more than that, I've learned to be grateful for the lights and all the other things we use that run on electricity. In a way I feel like a spoiled sniveling brat when I compare my 24 hours of darkness with what so many people in war-torn, impoverished and weather-ravaged parts of the world face routinely.

You have my respect and empathy.


Mary invites you to visit her at, where this column is archived complete with links and resources for all recommended products and services. Mary invites questions and comments at, "Ask Mary." This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of, a frugal living blog, and the author of the book "Debt-Proof Living."

Copyright 2024 Creators Syndicate Inc.




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