'How the economy changed us'

"Live and learn," the old saying goes. The economic situation in recent years has taught us all some valuable lessons. Saving more, buying less and spending more quality time with each other are just some of the ways the economy has changed these families.

We got rid of our credit cards
We got rid of our credit cards
Name: John and Bethany Edwards
Age: 33 and 31
Location: Atlanta

We were so unsettled about our finances in 2008, with $64,000 in consumer debt looming over us, that we decided to get rid of our credit cards entirely. We paid off our two credit cards, along with two student and car loans, in March 2010, and still avoid plastic.

Since making this change, we have also built a $13,000 emergency fund and are working toward paying off our $255,000 mortgage.

I used to think about what new big purchase I'd pay off with each paycheck. But now, because I only spend money that I have, I don't have to think about paying off the purchase at all. I just enjoy the item or the trip. -- John Edwards

As told to Tali Yahalom - Last updated October 26 2011: 5:36 PM ET
What to do with $1,000 now

When stocks are scary and bank account yields paltry, parking your money under the mattress might seem like the only sensible move. Not the case.