09 February 2009

If I Don't Spend, Who Will?

I'm doing well in not buying anything extra this month. I'm proud of the last nine days. I went grocery shopping Thursday and even though everything in the grocery store looked fantastic, I did not stray from my list. Six days of not eating and I only spent $47. I did buy a lot of things that were on sale though, saving $30 with my club card. Not buying will help my bank account and help me relax. But David brings up a good point:

I understand what you mean...but how are we going to get this economy moving if people aren't willing to spend money? Maybe it's not something you need...but every little bit helps!

Spending money is what the economy needs. The more people spend, the more small businesses can hire. And as I've learned, small businesses are the best opportunity for growth. I should spend. You should spend. A friend of mine says spending makes her feel more patriotic; although she's also the person who gave me the idea for the "no buy months." Knowing and doing are different though, and I've decided I have to do what's best for me instead of what's best for the country.


I have to save cash and eliminate debt. I am obligated to make sure Jesse and I are in the best financial shape possible. We're about to go into a depression. The state of California is out of money. That translates to no tax refund for me, and to no food stamps or unemployment checks for my neighbors. I paid my extra fine at the DMV, and still the staff there has to take two unpaid days off every month. I believe (economically) things are going from worst to terrible. And for the same reason I carry a tape measure in my bag, I can't spend. I have to be prepared.


The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is not the answer. My apologies to the President. It will essentially print $1,300,000,000,000. It's like when you play Monopoly and run out of bills. The country is broke. But unlike a household with a credit limit, the United States can make its own money that has some value. That value comes from devaluing the dollars that are already out there. Our assets are the same, but there are more pieces of them. Printing another trillion dollars is not going to do what we need done. But no. I don't have a broader solution.


I want the country to be run like a household. If there is no extra money, there is no extra fun.

No NASA, you can't experiment with billions of dollars until the national debt is paid. No Congress, you can't get a raise in your allowance. In fact, it's being cut until the bills are paid.


Americans have to choose to spend their money wisely but our government doesn't. People who don't, suffer. I don't have faith in the stimulus plan. I think it costs too much. I'm one of those politically left, financially right people. I believe it can be achieved if the right sacrifices are made. Unfortunately I don't see any of that forthcoming from Washington.


If I had my way, I'd scrap the bill we have on the table now, identify five areas that need immediate (within 30 days) help (manufacturing, construction, mortgages, etc), and come up with a bill to get those improving. I'd make the bill short and concise, give lawmakers one day to read it and another to debate and vote on it. I'd tell members of Congress to wear comfortable clothes and to think like real people who don't have staffs or drivers. In my fantasy efficient things get done.


Until I have faith in my government to protect my economic interests (and I would like that), the only one who can do that is me. Even Jesse would spend wildly if I let him. I'd like to be finishing our apartment, buying stock, and planning a cruise right now. But the most responsible thing I can for myself is save.