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Berdine's Corner

What Are Your Plans This Year?

by Deborah E. Dennard

berdine dennard
Berdine Dillard Dennard

Life Lessons from a Matriarch

At the beginning of each year, millions of Americans make New Year's resolutions which they usually break within two weeks. Although Berdine made resolutions from time to time, she made yearly goals that she didn't call resolutions, and she never broke them. Each year, she would reflect on her finances, home, and leisure and would make new goals for the following year. She always called these her projects. We could all benefit from mimicking her yearly projects.

In her finances, Berdine would look at any bills she would have and would make a plan to pay them off. If she owed on any credit cards, she would sit down and make a budget for paying them off by paying extra each payment. Because of this, she rarely had any debt. Furthermore, she would look at her savings and devise a plan to save a certain amount each month. By the end of most years, she would have saved at least $2000. While this may not seem like a lot of money to many, it grew each year. She would often tell us (her children) to save something every paycheck, even if it were only $20. She said the key to saving was to never touch it. This was her motto in regards to saving. In fact, at the end of each year, she would take her money and put it in CD's and mutual funds, therefore, helping it grow. This is great advice for us as we begin a new year during this time of recession.

In addition, my mama always had some project regarding the house. In their marriage, it was understood that my daddy paid the mortgage and the utility bills, and my mama used her money to pay for clothes for us when we were children as well as any extras around the house. Every year, it would seem, my mama would find a major improvement to work on within the house. Because of this, she added quite a bit of value to the house. Over the years, she had an automatic sprinkling system installed, gutters were installed, a privacy fence was put up, the house has been painted inside and out numerous times, and she had new carpeting, linoleum, and hard wood floors laid. Not to mention, she redecorated each room in the house and hired an interior decorator to help. Furthermore, she spent countless amounts of money on flowers and plants to beautify the yard. If we took lessons from her, the value of our homes would continue to go up even as real estate prices continue to plummet.

Finally, my mama always made herself a priority in her goals. Every year, she would plan a few trips. Sometimes, she would travel the country with my daddy, and occasionally, my brothers and I would travel with them. Other times, she would go on a trip or cruise with just the two of us or with her sisters and brothers. I am so grateful for the trips. Some of my fondest memories are of our trips to Alaska, Las Vegas, Hilton Head, Myrtle Beach, the Bahamas, and the Grand Canyon.

Resolutions are great to make if we stick to them. They are nothing but goals or plans. It is imperative that we make plans for our lives. The old saying is true; if we fail to plan, then we plan to fail. My mama made a new plan every year. Her plans included her finances, so she could do more of the things that she enjoyed as well as leave something to those she loved. She also worked hard to make our house into a home, so she and her family could live more comfortably. And she made sure that she made time to enjoy her loved ones by taking trips with them. My mama lived every year as if it were her last. Can you say the same? What are your plans? What are you going to do this year to really live?


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The Dennard family in front of the Grand Canyon (11/3/06)