February 23, 2020
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Try online social networking for low-cost ways to connect

Today I’m in catch-up mode, having just returned from what three former college roommates and I call our retreat. It has become a tradition we look forward to every year. Between retreats, we stay in touch by e-mail. In three years, we have logged nearly 75,000 e-mail messages through our private Yahoo group. We are a chatty bunch. Every spring, we travel from across the country to be together. Our connection gives each of us a unique sense of strength and comfort, even though we are sepa-rated by many miles.

In St. Louis, Kathryn and Galen G. and several other couples in their community are part of a small supper club. Their bond of friendship has grown around their mutual enjoyment of fine dining.

These days, even though everyone is feeling the economic pinch, they’re determined not to give up the dining part, so in-stead of eating at expensive restaurants, they’re eating at members’ homes. The host couple provides the entree, and the others share by bringing side dishes and dessert in keeping with that month’s theme and menu. It’s becoming more than just a shared meal. These couples are connected. Their common interest has turned into friendship and assurance that they are not alone. Without realizing it, their bond has created an emotional safety net.

As the nation becomes bogged down by economic woes, a fairly new phenomenon known as online social networking is providing a similar feeling of connectedness. Even if you do not participate in MySpace or Facebook, it’s likely you’ve heard of these sites. These social networking sites are nothing short of mind-boggling. In the past few months, I’ve waded into the shallow end of the Facebook pool, and I’ve connected with friends, schoolmates and relatives whom I had lost touch with years, even decades, ago.

There’s also Twitter, which is a social networking and micro-blogging service that enables its users to send and read other users’ updates, known as Tweets. I’ll admit that I thought it was just plain silly when Twitter and I first met, but I’ve changed my mind. All of these sites offer something good: connection with others who have a common interest.

Are you connected? It might be through a small group at church or work. Perhaps you have a neighborhood connection or have connected through a library or service organization. Now is the time to strengthen that connection.

We recently formed a Debt-Proof Living Facebook group. If you read “Everyday Cheapskate” and have a Facebook ac-count, that’s all you need to join. Go to http://tinyurl.com/debtproofliving. I can’t wait to welcome you to our group!

You also can follow me on Twitter, where I’ll be posting updates on the latest news out of the Debt-Proof Living office, as well as articles relevant to living a debt-free lifestyle. Join me at http://www.twitter.com/debtproofliving.

Mary Hunt is founder of www.DebtProofLiving.com and author of 17 books, including “Debt-Proof Living.” You may e-mail her at mary@everydaycheapskate.com, or write to Everyday Cheapskate, P.O. Box 2135, Paramount, CA 90723.

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