Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Thrift as a Lifestyle

While I am sorry for so many's people pain, I have to admit I actually appreciate that living beneath your means is finally coming into fashion. It's wonderful to see articles in so many popular venues about how to make do with less and make the most of what you have. Even today, Yahoo has an article on how you should "Put Savings (and Yourself) First With a Budget." Articles like these were in noticeably short supply even just a year ago.

It wasn't that long ago, in the early stages of this housing crash, when you would read articles lamenting the plight of people who were, by their reduced circumstances, forced to make do with cutting their own kids hair, or, gasp, preparing their own meals at home! Oh my gosh, those poor people! (said with a tone of contempt) How ever did they survive?

We learned long ago, the value of thrift. In our late-20s, we were lucky (and wise) enough to read "Your Money or Your Life" and the "Tightwad Gazette," among others. Though some of the ideas in these books weren't for us, the fundamentals were there and we were able to adopt many good ideas.

Though Jeff and I have had our times where we spent more than we should have on something (like our house in Forest Grove), we have ALWAYS lived beneath our means. While I will admit the means of a high tech worker isn't exactly commensurate with a high school teacher or a steel worker, we always lived on less than we made, even when we were both full-time students. Some years were better than others.

When times got tough, we cut back our spending, we didn't pull out the credit cards or the home equity loan. And when the job got uncertain, we put every last dollar we could spare into paying off our mortgage. We rarely eat out, even now. We occasionally eat out with friends, but that's more of a social visit. And, my hair hasn't been cut by a paid hairstylist in years. And, when I can muster the courage, I cut Jeff's hair. I have many times in the past.

It's really hard right now to feel sorry for folks who "gambled" that the value of their home would rise faster than their pay-option mortgage. Tell me again, why are we helping these people? How, exactly, does it help everybody else? Wouldn't it be better to get them out from under their onerous debts and settled into a sustainable situation? Okay, maybe they don't get to live in that McMansion and have to settle for something more meager, but those prices were like monopoly money. Not real, after all.

I wish the government would just let foreclosures run their course. If you have to, help the people get settled into something that's sustainable given their resources. It's just wrong to help the ones who stretched and gambled at the expense of those who were realistic and saved!


  1. I agree--let the risk-takers suffer for their risk. Liquidate all the crooked bankers and Wall Street thieves, and take back money from any politician that took a cut of the kickbacks. I cut my own hair and my girls' hair, too. The boys go to a cheap barber. No hair coloring, extensions, manicures, fascials, massages, therapy... Dining out means we get pizza once a week. We were lucky (and smart) enough to sell all our stocks back in the summer of 07 and use it as a downpayment on our house to make it affordable. It may take years to see the return, but we're not going anywhere. That's the other tip: when the market falls, don't sell when it's down. Hang on and wait for the value to return. Though I think it's going to be a long, long ride.

  2. Oh, there's another author out there called Larry Winget who has a series of books about getting yourself out of the financial mess you're in. His web site has a link to an interview about his resolution to the financial crisis.