Author Topic: Don't cut back on spending, just "Pick a cause"  (Read 7118 times)

yolfer

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Don't cut back on spending, just "Pick a cause"
« on: January 14, 2013, 01:19:55 PM »
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/13/opinion/sunday/cant-save-heres-why.html

I hesitated to post this here, since the author does have some genuine pairs of pants in their complainypants drawer (e.g. the increased prices of college and healthcare), but the gist of the article needs to be mocked:  don't bother cutting back on expenses, instead do something vague and mostly out of your sphere of influence like "Pick a cause, and resolve to fight for change" (whatever that means).

bo_knows

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Re: Don't cut back on spending, just "Pick a cause"
« Reply #1 on: January 14, 2013, 01:50:37 PM »
I'm already having an argument with some people on reddit about this article and how cutting small expenditures actually DO matter over the long term.

The article is tough for me to overlook, because there are a lot of points in there that DO need to be addressed.  But, the whole attitude of the article also feels like "it doesn't matter what we do, we're screwed" sort of vibe, which I hate.

yolfer

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Re: Don't cut back on spending, just "Pick a cause"
« Reply #2 on: January 14, 2013, 02:18:27 PM »
I'm already having an argument with some people on reddit about this article and how cutting small expenditures actually DO matter over the long term.

The article is tough for me to overlook, because there are a lot of points in there that DO need to be addressed.  But, the whole attitude of the article also feels like "it doesn't matter what we do, we're screwed" sort of vibe, which I hate.

Exactly! That's what I was trying to say, but you said it better. I'll go give you some upboats on reddit!

Jamesqf

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Re: Don't cut back on spending, just "Pick a cause"
« Reply #3 on: January 14, 2013, 03:28:11 PM »
Kinda amusing, this guy telling me that I can't save when in fact I do, and have accumulated a stash comfortably in the mid six figures by doing so.  Then there are those student loans: I probably accumulated somewhere around that $26K average, in today's dollars.  But by taking out those loans, my income went from near minimum wage to around $75-100K (again, today's dollars).  Doesn't take long (about 3 years for me, IIRC) to pay off a loan at that rate, if you're interesting in paying.

CatM13

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Re: Don't cut back on spending, just "Pick a cause"
« Reply #4 on: January 14, 2013, 03:36:39 PM »
I was just coming here to post the link but I see you beat me to it.

I agree that the entire attitude is "its not your fault that you have no savings". I was appalled that the writer said that no amount of spending reduction would have an impact on your savings.  In my opinion, that's part of whats wrong in general is that most have abdicated any responsibility or control over their own situations because "it's not my fault". Guess that's why I'm here for advice not on the NY Times.

And I thought I recognized some of the comments on reddit with a mustache an flare :)



Vahla

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Re: Don't cut back on spending, just "Pick a cause"
« Reply #5 on: January 14, 2013, 03:51:02 PM »
The article was very complainy pants, if it would have ended with this message at the end it might have been worth the read.
Quote
So let me suggest another financial resolution, one that will do more for our future financial outlook than simply forgoing a few consumer goods: talk about money. Itís not shameful.

BlueMR2

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Re: Don't cut back on spending, just "Pick a cause"
« Reply #6 on: January 14, 2013, 03:54:35 PM »
Gotta love articles saying how something is impossible.  Especially when it's something that so many people are successfully doing!  :-)

James

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Re: Don't cut back on spending, just "Pick a cause"
« Reply #7 on: January 14, 2013, 03:58:56 PM »
Gotta love articles saying how something is impossible.  Especially when it's something that so many people are successfully doing!  :-)


Bingo!  :)

c

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Re: Don't cut back on spending, just "Pick a cause"
« Reply #8 on: January 14, 2013, 07:08:56 PM »
"In fact, itís long been known that the majority of bankruptcies result from health issues, job losses and fractured families, something no amount of cutting back can protect against."


It's comments and attitudes like this that frustrate me, probably because I was the same way for many years, but the whole "I can't do it ALL so I won't to ANYTHING" really gets me. It's like "oh I can't save 3 months expenses, so instead of working hard to save one month, I'll save nothing".


Yes 50% of marriages end in divorce, but 50% don't. You might get hit by a bus tomorrow, but you might not and then what will you do?

Tyler

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Re: Don't cut back on spending, just "Pick a cause"
« Reply #9 on: January 14, 2013, 07:27:53 PM »
The system is stacked against me -- it's not my fault -- I don't have a spending problem -- the Man needs to change, not me --  fight for "change" (that benefits me).  Me.  Me.  Me.  Blech.

Here's a similar article with a more grownup perspective.  Synopsis: even if there are fundamental economic forces moving against you, you should work on the things you have control over and stop bitching. 

"Hating the system is a favorite American pastime. It feels good, is difficult to stop once you start, and gets you precisely nowhere, not unlike eating Doritos."

http://www.raptitude.com/2011/01/how-to-make-trillions-of-dollars/
« Last Edit: January 14, 2013, 07:30:41 PM by Tyler »

spider1204

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Re: Don't cut back on spending, just "Pick a cause"
« Reply #10 on: January 15, 2013, 07:31:59 AM »
Quote
"In fact, itís long been known that the majority of bankruptcies result from health issues, job losses and fractured families, something no amount of cutting back can protect against."

I'm pretty sure that these are more like the straw that broke the camel's back and not so much the root cause.  I'm pretty sure that MMM could get hit by bus, lose his job (what job?), get divorced and still not even come close to going bankrupt.

twinge

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Re: Don't cut back on spending, just "Pick a cause"
« Reply #11 on: January 15, 2013, 08:05:07 AM »


Quote
The article is tough for me to overlook, because there are a lot of points in there that DO need to be addressed.But, the whole attitude of the article also feels like "it doesn't matter what we do, we're screwed" sort of vibe, which I hate.

I agree with bo_knows on this.  The complainypants tone of the article rubs me wrong, but so does the "just lift yourselves up by your bootstraps and you'll be fine" or "I'm doing just fine, so it's not impossible" counter-response.  I don't think it's reasonable to just say we can't fix unjust, ineffective social practices so just focus on our individual situations because it's not like laws/regulations are unchangeable.  And, sure, many, many people could better their situations by becoming more mustachian.  But, still,   
it disappoints me that so many smart, fortunate, independent-minded individuals want to just focus on using their skills just to protect their own situation and not towards inventing creative, humane solutions to make life better for others.  I'd hate for the "face-punching" tendency of this site to devolve to this...

James

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Re: Don't cut back on spending, just "Pick a cause"
« Reply #12 on: January 15, 2013, 08:16:13 AM »
But, still, it disappoints me that so many smart, fortunate, independent-minded individuals want to just focus on using their skills just to protect their own situation and not towards inventing creative, humane solutions to make life better for others.  I'd hate for the "face-punching" tendency of this site to devolve to this...

Isn't that what MMM is doing with his "face-punching"?  He is inventing a creative, humane solution to make life better for others.  He COULD keep it to himself, living the high life with his wife and son without affecting change in others like he has been, but he didn't.  It's exactly the face punching that he and others do that is helping so many others, please don't disparage that.  Mustachians creating a better and more secure financial situation for themselves puts them in exactly the right position to help others in need, rather than having to focus on feeding their consumerism and high spending.

I get your point, we should work to affect change, but that doesn't mean we have to pull our punches.  :)

twinge

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Re: Don't cut back on spending, just "Pick a cause"
« Reply #13 on: January 15, 2013, 08:24:52 AM »
Quote
Isn't that what MMM is doing with his "face-punching"?  He is inventing a creative, humane solution to make life better for others.  He COULD keep it to himself, living the high life with his wife and son without affecting change in others like he has been, but he didn't.  It's exactly the face punching that he and others do that is helping so many others, please don't disparage that.

No, I wasn't saying that at all.  I was just saying I don't want the face-punching to DEVOLVE to the sort of individualistic, victim-blaming perspectives that surround us in our culture just as much as the consumerist, self-victimizing messages--both of which are distortions.   It's a fine line to walk.  And, the us vs. them, in-group out-group mentality is one of the strongest psychological forces around , so ANY group needs to self-monitor they ways they might fall into traps that the mentality holds. 

NumberJohnny5

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Re: Don't cut back on spending, just "Pick a cause"
« Reply #14 on: January 15, 2013, 10:17:19 PM »
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/13/opinion/sunday/cant-save-heres-why.html

I hesitated to post this here, since the author does have some genuine pairs of pants in their complainypants drawer (e.g. the increased prices of college and healthcare), but the gist of the article needs to be mocked:  don't bother cutting back on expenses, instead do something vague and mostly out of your sphere of influence like "Pick a cause, and resolve to fight for change" (whatever that means).

I do agree with this quote:  "So let me suggest another financial resolution, one that will do more for our future financial outlook than simply forgoing a few consumer goods: talk about money."  I think we'd be much better off if we had serious conversations about money, and not the current "I'm so broke, I can't pay attention" and "you just don't understand, these $30 shoes WERE $100, I got a great deal!"

Making one small change won't make that much of a difference, I'll admit.  Cutting $10/mo is a mere $120 a year.  That's really not going to make the difference between being homeless and living the high life in retirement.  The problem is that many people view it just like that, and don't even bother.  But first you save $10/mo by cutting back on the cable bill.  Then you save another $20/mo by switching mobile providers.  Later you realize you can cut back the cable by another $20/mo.  Then you try out Netflix, and decide you can cut cable altogether, saving yet another $40/mo.  You get voip, and realize you don't have to have a high number of mobile minutes (and use google voice to send texts, so you can cut the text package too).  Eventually you're paying $15/mo for mobile phone service instead of $100.

We're on a roll, saving $155/mo, or $1,860/yr.  That's not a huge amount, but it is enough to start making a noticeable difference in retirement.  But you keep going.  That $8k/yr Disney vacation you always go way overboard on...you scale down a bit and get it under $2k (hey, I never said you had to give up every bit of consumerism).  With the money saved you decide to also splurge on a cruise for $3k.  Ok, not great but nonetheless, you see how you're having TWO awesome vacations for less than the cost of one in years past, still saving $3k/yr.  We're nearly at $5k/yr, that's almost enough to fully fund a Roth IRA.

But we keep going.  You decide to keep that 5yr old "clunker" of a car for another year, saving a $400/mo car payment.  It breaks down and needs a major repair costing $2,000 plus another $300 in a car rental to tide you over.  $4,800 saved minus $2,300 spent = $2,500 total savings.  Hey, you start to realize that even if the car is a major money pit, it's still costing less than a new car would.  Maybe next year it won't need any repairs and you'll be even more well off.  You decide you'll keep it next year too.

Hey, now your car's six years old, you have no cable tv...guess you can venture in one of those "thrift stores" that all the poor people go to.  Holy crap, there's some nice stuff in there!  Yeah, there's a lot of crap too, but it's not half bad.  Maybe you'll check out some other thrift stores too.  Ooh, this one has really nice clothes, the other one is good for toys, this other one is the one for small kitchen appliances...etc.  Now instead of spending $100/wk on clothes, you're spending that much per YEAR.  Savings of...oh crap who cares anymore.  You're living the frugal lifestyle, putting away tons for retirement, and can't see reverting back to your old lifestyle.  You work when and where you want, spend lots of time on your hobbies, retire early if you want, etc.

Or, you can just think that saving $120/yr isn't worth it, don't even try, and never gain momentum toward a frugal lifestyle.  Your choice.

MrSaturday

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Re: Don't cut back on spending, just "Pick a cause"
« Reply #15 on: January 17, 2013, 12:05:58 PM »
Quote
"In fact, itís long been known that the majority of winter hunger deaths result from excessively low temperatures, early onset of winter, and late spring, something no amount of storing extra food can protect against."

- The Grasshopper

In case you were wondering why the author's argument sounded so familiar.

Jamesqf

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Re: Don't cut back on spending, just "Pick a cause"
« Reply #16 on: January 17, 2013, 01:13:05 PM »
That $8k/yr Disney vacation you always go way overboard on...you scale down a bit and get it under $2k (hey, I never said you had to give up every bit of consumerism).  With the money saved you decide to also splurge on a cruise for $3k.

Indeed, once you clear out a bit of the consumerist attitude, you might realize that not only is the Disney vacation not giving your $8K worth of fun, it's in fact not fun at all, and that you're coming back from vacations glad that you can go back to work.

bo_knows

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Re: Don't cut back on spending, just "Pick a cause"
« Reply #17 on: January 21, 2013, 01:44:41 PM »
That $8k/yr Disney vacation you always go way overboard on...you scale down a bit and get it under $2k (hey, I never said you had to give up every bit of consumerism).  With the money saved you decide to also splurge on a cruise for $3k.

Indeed, once you clear out a bit of the consumerist attitude, you might realize that not only is the Disney vacation not giving your $8K worth of fun, it's in fact not fun at all, and that you're coming back from vacations glad that you can go back to work.

Very true.  I think that a lot of people just have trouble defining what a "vacation" is.  I'm eternally grateful that my brother-in-law lives about 3hrs from us at a nice family beach.  We usually cruise down to his place 2-3 times a year for a long weekend "vacation".  The cost ends up being mostly in gas, as we prepare all our food as his place, and rarely eat out when we're there (save an ice cream cone on the boardwalk).

Guitarist

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Re: Don't cut back on spending, just "Pick a cause"
« Reply #18 on: January 22, 2013, 01:09:03 PM »
The system is stacked against me -- it's not my fault -- I don't have a spending problem -- the Man needs to change, not me --  fight for "change" (that benefits me).  Me.  Me.  Me.  Blech.

Here's a similar article with a more grownup perspective.  Synopsis: even if there are fundamental economic forces moving against you, you should work on the things you have control over and stop bitching. 

"Hating the system is a favorite American pastime. It feels good, is difficult to stop once you start, and gets you precisely nowhere, not unlike eating Doritos."

http://www.raptitude.com/2011/01/how-to-make-trillions-of-dollars/


Quote
[Our economy] demands that we make consumption our way of life, that we convert the buying and use of goods into rituals, that we seek our spiritual satisfactions, our ego satisfactions, in consumption. The measure of social status, of social acceptance, of prestige, is now to be found in our consumptive patterns [...] We need things consumed, burned up, worn out, replaced, and discarded at an ever increasing pace. We need to have people eat, drink, dress, ride, live, with ever more complicated and, therefore, constantly more expensive consumption.

Looks like someone's been reading his Huxley.