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Monday, December 8, 2008

Your Money or Your LIfe

More than once on this blog site I have been accused of attempting to destroy the American economy through my advocating thrift and a return to Benjamin Franklin’s admonition that “a penny saved, is a penny earned.” Our insatiable consumption as a nation has led to our current economic crisis. We came to believe that we could have the American dream through credit instead of through saving. “If I want something I’m going to buy it” was one comment left when I had the temerity to suggest a return to the original spirit of peace on earth at Christmas instead of massive debt and conspicuous consumption.

Once again Americans are showing their “right stuff” by a return to the value of conservation of financial resources. Gasoline is coming down in price largely due to American conservation. People are availing themselves of public transportation in record numbers. We are putting off purchasing big ticket items and beginning to save for them. Many are cutting back on holiday shopping and finding creative ways to express their love for family and friends. My husband, who has an extensive LP collection, is making CDs for each of his brothers. The janitor where I work keeps bees and sells honey. Buying seven jars of his wonderful raspberry honey at $5 a jar made both of us happy and eliminated shopping for my sisters-in-law. This saved gas and time and fulfilled my own requirements that gifts be consumable.

I am in the process of reading Your Money or Your Life by Dominguez and Robin. Not only am I striving to buy less, I am attempting to let go of things I already have. Thrift stores have been busier than ever, but I plan to keep them well supplied as I go through closets and cupboards getting rid of things that are doing nothing but weighing me down. I highly recommend this book which is available used at “Half Price Books” in Tacoma and on

Another great book to give/receive for Christmas is Sarah Ban Breathnach’s Simple Abundance; A Daybook of Comfort & Joy. This lovely book is a day by day reflection on simplifying your physical life while enriching your spiritual life. It can be started at any point of the book/year, but New Year’s and its attendant feeling of fresh start is a wonderful time to begin a journey that will enrich your life and wallet.

If this topic interests you, keep an eye on my The View From My Broom blog.


shadowolf said...

Also available at Tacoma Book Center. This is a live changing book.

Stephanie Frieze said...


Kim Thompson said...

Hi Stephanie:

I got the chance to meet Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin when I worked at KCTS in the very early 1990's. They were guests on the show I worked on, "Serious Money" (a local finance show). The show depicted their lifestyle, the voluntary simplicity movement, and tips on what each person can do to simplify their own lives.

I found this couple very kind and very interesting. Besides their tips (some very easy to do, some harder), there was one thing I noticed about them--they were constantly smiling, relaxed and happy people.

Hmmm... I like that idea!


VW said...

There is nothing wrong with thrift. It's a solid financial principle .

And yes, If I want it and I can afford it, I'll buy it. The operative words are "If I can afford it".

Encouraging low income people to take on home loans that they cannot afford has been the root of the Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac problem. Banks were often coerced by community organizations to loan to people or be sued. When we tried to regulate them, Barny Frank, Chris Dodd and Maxine Waters did all they could to stop it.

The problem is that we are no longer a local or even a regional economy. We cannot just buy local although there is absolutely nothing wrong with patronizing local farmers, retailers, etc. We are a national and global economy.

We are all cutting back a little, even those of us who are employed and in no immediate danger of losing their job. But that doesn't mean that I intend to live like I'm in the poor house because I'm not.

I have a couple of purchases I'm looking at and deciding whether to go ahead with them. One being a new Laptop.

This is America, I'll live how I want and buy what I can afford from whatever merchant I choose.

It's a freedom thing.


Lorraine Hart said...

There's also opportunities to "adopt" endangered wildlife, starting at $20 through "Defenders of Wildlife" with a plush-toy representation of the animal and information for the recipient.

Laptops are good tools. My family actually got together and gave me a new computer for my birthday/Christmas (forever!) because it's where I'm doing most of my work these days. Until now I have used old ones donated by friends and family.

I now have an old computer that works well, though the cooling fan is a little noisy. Anyone know a hard-working kid who doesn't have a computer and needs one? Get in touch with me.

Stephanie Frieze said...

I have never meant to suggest that thrift should be legislated, but only a guiding principal which Americans have largely forgotten about until recently. People ought to have to save up to buy homes, cars, etc and credit not be so easy to come by.

I agree about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, VW. There's no shame in renting. Not everyone is going to be able to own a home. We have become spoiled in many ways and now the bill has come due.

Our family's future is uncertain as it is "when" not "if" my husband's job ends so we are choosing to be as thrifty as possible. It helps the environment, gets us out of debt, and hopefully prevents us from being a burden to our children later on. Discarding things we no longer have need of lightens our hearts, helps someone else, and will be a blessing to our children.

VW said...

True, You never have mentioned that, but I've seen many others say it elsewhere. I was just kind of making a general statement.

Being thrifty has always been good advice and a good choice.

I hope your husband is able to continue employment somewhere. I know how hard being out of work can be.


Stephanie Frieze said...

How do you feel about the auto bail-out, VW? Personally, I hate rewarding greed and stupidity.

Fortunately my husband has retirement from the FAA prior to Lockheed taking over. The end will come sometime between now and the end of next year thanks go privatization. He likes the sound of Costco, but doesn't everyone? We want to eek out three more years here for the sake of the children who live with us and in the hopes that the value of our house here will go back up.

Stephanie Frieze said...

BTW Kim, I think it's awesome that you got to meet Dominguez and Robin! The book is coming out in a new edition tomorrow due to the current recession.

Anonymous said...

Someone convince the council of this word CONSERVATION - Fiscal conservative. They are aimed at 6% raises for cops to drive themselves home on our dime, rip more $ into Cheney and more "so called" downtown artsie signs to tell us where the nearest Dairy Queen is and retain the right to allow condo owners 0% tax increase for 10+ years...

Conservative is not a four letter word folks... try saving money and stop asking people to poney up for your ill conceived projects...