Friday, March 13, 2009

Crisis: Overindulgent Americans!

When will Americans get a grip on their appetites for excess, and start living within their means?

A coworker recently commented to me; "I feel so sorry for all these people who have mortages of $1600.00-$1800.00 (that was her figure, not mine), a month, children in private school, and car payments.... so many are getting laid off from their jobs!"


Ok, is it JUST ME? Or am I being snarly? I don't have a lot of sympathy for someone who has to take their children out of private school... period.
That's a luxury. I tried to make that point to my co-worker and her response was: "Well, it's still an adjustment for everyone". .... Okay... so it's an adjustment. There are children who are malnutritioned, abused, and illiterate. That's where my sympathy goes. Not to the spoiled, over-indulged Americans who decided to live beyond their means and buy more house, school, and food than they need. I tried to make this point to my co-worker as well. It was met with: Why shouldn't they have what they want???

Ggggrrrrr.... I told her that anyone who lives beyond their means, will have to live with the consequences if they loose their job. It's sad, yes, but, these people who are *loosing everything* will definately have to learn to adjust, yes, but they'll be better for it in the long run.


I got a good tongue-lashing that included: "Not everyone lives within their means Kelly".. Not everyone lives like YOU DO ..(What does that mean???) ... and proceeded into: "People are loosing all their possesions".. and it's a crisis.
Hmmmm..... that isn't what my parents, my friends, or my grandparents think. Heavens, my grandmother lived in a chicken shack in the great depression and speaks of it rather fondly now. She learned how to get by... and she was proud of that! My parents still save bread-wrappers and twistie-ties, and rewash ziplock bags.


I was raised to calculate the cost of every garbage bag. We used small plastic store bags and wrapped small amounts up at a time, to save money. I used cloth diapers, rubber pants, and still make my own lunch to take to work, in you guessed it; a recycleable plastic container that gets reused daily. It's no great sacrifice on my part.. it's just how I live. I also use cloth napkins, and insulate the dickens out of my attic and turn off lights when I leave the room. Last months electric bill? $66.00 on a 2000 square foot home that is heated mostly with a wood-burner.


And our mortgage can be paid on one income if we needed to. We actually QUALIFIED for over $300,000.00 for a home loan. Unbelievable. We knew it would be ridiculous to even conside half of that, although it was very flattering to our ego's. We argued with the loan officer AND the real estate agent about how much house to purchase. They kept insisting that we can get more house. I know what we qualified for, and I'm sorry if I have to keep bringing up good ol' common sense and smacking everyone in the snout with it, but if you can't PAY for 300k worth of roof, why bother? We bought no more than we need. We are paying not only on the front end of the loan, but also against the principle in a separate check monthly. We want to pay it off fast, so we can enjoy it as our own.

Now, I am not against having some possesions. I am not agianst having quality.
But if it's not paid for, it's really not yours to begin with. I call myself a *homeowner*, but the truth is; The BANK owns my home until I finish every last payment I commited to making when I signed the contract.
Now, my old cars? MINE. Bought and paid for and I have the pink slip to prove it.
I could NOT get through to my Navigator-Driving Coworker, that we all have to make conscience choices and if we put oursleves out on a limb, we ASSUME that risk.


I'm not heartless, and I'm sure it is a difficult transition for ANY family who looses a home, and/or cars, assumed lifestyle, etc.. But they aren't dying of cancer... right? Their kidnsey aren't failing, and their children aren't in a hospital with a rare disease. They just took on too much debt, and didn't count on an economical collapse. It's happened before and it will happen again.

I do place part of the blame on pop-culture, for telling us we aren't living right if we don't have the latest style, car or gadget. I blame the financial institutions for approving people for loans over and above what the family genuinely needs or can pay for. But I want to slap the daylights out of the parents who are raising the next generation to believe if they want something they should have it!

Has noone ever heard of delayed gratification? Or better yet; Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without???
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