Metroblog

A one-time school project gone terribly, terribly wrong.

18 April 2008

Belt Tightening 101

Over at Salon.com, Heather Havrilesky has an article entitled "How I learned to stop worrying and love the recession:
I say bring it on! As long as people aren't nattering on about cosmetic surgery or their stupid kitchen remodels anymore, as long as the skyrocketing costs of food and gas will make us stop for two seconds to consider how impossible it is to feed a family these days on our laughable minimum wage, I'm on board.

Me, I don't get it. I think about saving money all the time. I also think about the tradeoff between foreign-made and domestic, between organic and non, and myriad other consumer issues that tend to escape us during the well-off times.

We middle-classers have been giving more and more of our money away for frippery, vanity, and garbage. Even I am not entirely immune, as the $35 weight set in the basement attests (Hey--it was on sale, and I had every intention of using it).

As we continue to consume more and harder, the costs are catching up with us. Cheap housing disappeared in the 1990's. Cheap food is rapidly vanishing (with the poor getting the $#17ty end of that stick as well). Cheap fuel?--You have been paying attention, haven't you?

Wait until we're asked to pay the actual environmental cost of what we consume.

But I believe the hard times are coming. It's time to slice off the fat. Mexico's already feeling the pinch, and so are we, as the US economy pauses at the top of the roller-coaster.

I'm almost inclined to hope that McCain gets elected, so that the blame when the economic $#17 hits the fan may at least be assigned to the proper party.

But there's good news too. As this article shows, we can all do better. Let's get frugal, folks. Let's get tight. Let's make Jack Benny look like a plunger. And when I go to my grave, O Avid Fan, there will be a gravestone roughly the size of a saucer, made of plastic, upon which shall be engraved my final words:

"I'll take whichever's cheaper ..."

5 Comments:

At 4:26 PM, Blogger Wandering Coyote said...

I just reviewed a book about the Bountiful Mormon sect, and there was a character in the book (not a Bountiful member) who, when he finally died, was found to have left 1.5M dollars behind. He helped feed his (yes, ridiculously large) family by dumpster diving. OK - he had a million kids...But really. Dumpster diving? Was it worth it in the end?

 
At 9:33 AM, Blogger Slave to the dogs said...

I was raised primarily by my grandparents who were a product of the depression. Scrimping runs deep in my veins even now that I can afford not to. It's an odd feeling watching how easy it is for others to spend money. I feel sorry for them during harder times if they are indeed coming.

 
At 9:46 AM, Blogger Metro said...

@WC:

There's a fine line between thrift and miser-y. Dumpster-diving as a choice? That's over the line.

@STTD:
My parents grew up in working-class British homes during the Austerity years. Mum became an economist.

We never had to resort to ketchup soup when Dad was a student, because mum could get a cartload of groceries and a buck-fifty change out of a dollar.

We also didn't buy South African, as a political choice. For similar reasons, living cheap also means watching who I buy from where possible.

If nothing else, it probably pays off in karma :-)

 
At 12:04 PM, Blogger Slave to the dogs said...

Well, yeah, back when I was a kid living cheap didn't mean loading up on Chinese crap like it does today.

 
At 1:47 PM, Blogger Metro said...

We agree. I think there's a big gap between the things we ask China to make for North American consumption and the things we actually need.

 

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