Has the recession changed your relationship to money?

Economists say the recession is ending but many of us don't feel it yet. We're still looking for a job, using food stamps, and doing everything to cut the grocery bill. But even for those of us still slogging through, tough times test our mettle, and they can also bring a few life-bettering realizations with them, too.

Take me, for example: having purse strings pulled tight drove home lessons I knew intellectually but suddenly felt in my bones were true. I went back to the library and remembered how those stacks of books and the quiet hush of pages flipping is the backdrop to a world of knowledge unfathomably huge. There's a magic to it that big box book stores just can't touch. I learned that coffee from a can will do just fine and that Pandora is like manna to a music lover. And I learned something I had always suspected was true for myself but suddenly knew for sure: time is worth more than money. There I was, poor as a church mouse, and happier than ever.

This is not meant to sound like a blasé or Pollyanna-ish attitude: certainly, economic hardships bring on immense suffering for families. Many of us have been backed into corners between a rock the size of Kilamanjaro and a hard space as dense as coal. But for those of us who have had enough to cover life's basics, but said sayonara to cable and new clothes, some of our values became crystal clear. So what have you learned in the recession (so far)?