Well, my friends, here is what 'frugality' means: Stay out of debt, or get out of debt--except to buy land (not a house, LAND). Young people are being trapped into a lifetime of debt as they exit our high schools. Ruthless, huge, multi-national corporations with no morality except the bottom line of maximizing their profit are using sophisticated mind manipulative techniques and devious legal traps to ensnare them into a lifetime of debt slavery.
To stay free, don't own a credit card, only a debit card. Over half of Americans are in trouble with credit card debt. Researchers found that the mere fact of owning a credit card (or an equity line of credit) causes persons to spend 25 percent more than they would spend if they didn't have the credit--just too much temptation. How will you rent a car without a credit card? Get a debit card. That type of card only spends money that you actually have. Then give your business to Enterprise, the only car rental company that will do business with a debit card.
Over 60 percent of new debt now involves such tragic concepts as "equity line of credit," "no-interest loan," or "adjustable-rate mortgage." All three of those are TROUBLE and should be dumped. People go to check borrowing agencies and pay 350 percent interest. That's crazy, addictive, and ought to be illegal. If you have credit cards, cut them up and throw away the pieces. If you have an equity line of credit, burn it. Never use it again. Otherwise, you'll probably lose the home.
Want to know your credit score? A new federal law requires credit reporting agencies to give consumers a free credit report once a year. The three big credit reporting agencies are Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. You can request your credit report from each of them. Or visit www.AnnualCreditReport.com.
Throw out your TV. Research shows that the more hours per day people watch TV, the deeper in debt they are. Why? Because TV teaches vanity, pride, a sedentary lifestyle, and unhealthy food choices. Advertisers sell you drinks that aren't good for you (sugar or fake sugar) in containers that aren't good for you or the environment (aluminum, plastic).
The company that buys $1,000,000 worth of advertising for a detergent in the soap opera slots is not doing that because it wants to support the art form (?) of the soap opera. It spends that money because ad researchershave assured the corporation that viewers who watch those ads over and over will get programmed. That is true. The message sinks to the bottom of the viewers' brains. They walk into the supermarket, and the hand gets a life of its own. It reaches out, grabs the detergent, puts it into the cart. Unfortunately, the same TV advertising / mind-programming mechanism works for big ticket items, too. You watch TV and you start to believe that, of course, you should have the fastest, prettiest, most fuel-efficient, or sexiest car and, of course, you'll buy it NEW and, of course, on credit. TV tells us that teeth, noses, and homes must be perfect, even at the cost of mortgaging your future. It teaches that a $30,000 loan to finance a "kitchen makeover" is reasonable, normal--when in fact it is bizarre, crazy.
TV teaches you to expect to own an expensive, impractical home because everybody's doing it. It urges you to desire one of these monuments to conspicuous consumption, a huge house on a tiny lot that you will spend half your lifetime's income paying for. This type of house is right now in the grip of price inflation brought on by overbuilding and speculation. Speculators put a deposit on an unbuilt home, then sell it after completion, or before. Currently, the most active part of the U.S. economy is the construction of this endless suburbanization, building big expensive homes on tiny lots. These homes are totally dependent on urban utility systems for water and power. They have no space to garden and no permission to keep livestock.
The more stuff you buy on credit, the poorer you will be. The young person who graduates from high school and gets several credit cards, goes to college on credit, buys a car on credit, buys a house on credit, furniture on credit, TV on credit will have only half of his or her lifetime's income available to spend; the other half will go to service that credit habit. If you never do debt, then you will have ALL your lifetime's income to spend.
Don't rent. To rent is to throw away money. it goes down the toilet, month after month, year after year--all that money gone and NOTHING to show for it. Buying a condo isn't as bad as renting, but buying land is much, much better because you can't produce food in a condo. A condo with a shared garden? Get real. What you are going to need in the times to come is a private garden with a strong fence and a locked gate.
How can you accumulate enough money to make a down payment on land? Save. That may require being nice to your parents, moving home for a while. Or find a friend who will let you live in a tent or little trailer in his back yard for a couple years, paying $100 a month, or some such. If you choose that course (family or friends), you must take this a sacred rule: EVERY PAYDAY, THE SAME AMOUNT OF MONEY THAT YOU WOULD HAVE PAID OUT FOR RENT AND UTILITIES NOW GOES INTO SAVINGS. At the end of a year, or two, or three, you will have enough money to pay cash for, or at least make a down payment on your land. Move your little trailer onto that land; live in it while you're saving the money to build a home.
Plan to save money. Our nation's savings rate is at a record low. Don't be part of that sad statistic. Save 10 to 20 percent of your income. When you cut up all those credit cards, put $1,000 into savings. That savings account will take the place of the credit card, providing a cushion for emergency expenses. Above and beyond the $1,000 cushion, invest your savings. Invest wisely. Buy something that you're knowledgeable about wholesale, then sell it retail. Or buy a tool with which you can manufacture a product to sell (a commercial sewing machine? blacksmithing equipment? woodworking tools?). Or buy a building to rent, or a piece of land on which you can grow wool, wood, fruit, vegetables, meat, or fiber plants. Or buy seeds and then sell garden produce at the farmers' market. Or buy a buck rabbit and three does of a meat breed, then sell rabbit meat. Or buy and raise chicks; in five months you'll have eggs to sell from "non-caged layers," $3 a dozen.
When you save money, then put that savings to work for you, your lifetime's income can be twice or four times what it would have been otherwise. My older brother started saving 50 percent of his income when he graduated from high school. He was a simple enlisted man in the Air Force who never earned big wages, but he always saved and invested as much as he could. It involved great self-sacrifice for him and his wife and children when they were young. Now they are in their 70's and I figure he's at least a millionaire. Maybe multi... Living very comfortably.
If you are in financial difficulty, there are only two possible responses: spend less money or earn more money. It's usually best to make improvements in both categories. Lose the vanity, lose the pride, and spend less money. We are afraid to look poor. We are afraid to look REAL. That prideful lifestyle is a dangerous, doomed path. It's better to drive the car you really can afford, the one you pay cash for, bought used, cheap. It's better to live in the home you can really afford, the tiny, shabby, fixer-upper that you can repair and make a profit on. Don't buy the one the bank says you can afford. It's better to live in a paid-for van, or tent, or 15-foot trailer, or in a small, old motorhome with a dead engine towed onto several acres of productive land than to live in a gorgeous, mortgaged new home where you can reach out and touch the neighbor's house. Work on developing multiple streams of income, so you can earn more money. Having multiple sources of income protects you against the loss or shrinking of any one source.
Shop with cash. If you don't have the money, don't buy. Shop only from a list. That prevents impulse buying. If it isn't on the list already, don't buy it. If you see something you want, put it on the list, at the bottom of the list. When you go shopping, buy only what has been on the list long enough to rise to its top. Look for bargains. Buy used. When shopping with cash, you can grab a bargain. When you live the no-credit, cash life, your money will buy at least four times as much as it would in the debt lifestyle. Credit costs money; it depletes your income by half, or more. By contrast, a lifetime of shopping only with cash multiplies your income by at least four times. In a credit economy (that's what we live in), cash is POWERFUL. Shopping with cash puts you in a position to bargain; you'll be amazed at the deals you can get in every buying category when you can negotiate with cash.
Times are going to change. Money will be harder to get. Everything you need to live will be more expensive and harder to find. Including food. Then, your friends in mansions will envy you that small, modestly outfitted home on several acres of land--a home with space for rabbits, poultry, a dairy animal, and a big garden. We are coming into times when there won't be enough food to go around. Then who will eat and who will not? The Bible says that the person who works will eat; the person who does not work will not eat.
If you have a work ethic, I promise, you will eat. Unfortunately, we have a young generation that is not only clueless about the meaning of "frugality," but they're also ignorant of the principles of a work ethic. What is a "work ethic"? It is the personal habit of practicing the following six rules. These rules must be so ingrained in one's upbringing that they're like a groove in your brain. The person who can't imagine acting otherwise is the person with a work ethic. That person WILL eat in hard times--whether it's food they worked to raise themselves, or food they bought with money earned by working for somebody else.
1. Look for work, a volunteer job or a paying job. When you see work that needs to be done, you go up to the person who seems to be in charge and ask, "How may I help you?" If you already have an established job, show up for work faithfully, before starting time, and with a good attitude.
2. If you are given work to do, be grateful. You can be proud of this, and appropriately so. Only the worthy are allowed the privilege of working, are entrusted with the responsibility of doing a job.
3. When working on a task, keep working until the job is done. You don't wander off. You don't sit down unless it's a sit-down job. Keep doing what needs to be done until the job is finished, or until the boss tells you to stop.
4. As soon as that job is finished, ask for more work: "Now what can I do to help you?"
5. Once you learn the routines, start getting things done on your own, so that it is no longer necessary for the boss to tell you what to do.
6. Be tidy. Keep your work area neat. Don't expect somebody else to pick up after you.
7. Maintain a positive attitude on the job. NEVER COMPLAIN.
8. Always show up at work well rested and drug free.
9. Once every few weeks, you might offer a suggestion to improve the job's efficiency or the business's profit. Begin by asking, "May I offer a suggestion?"
10. When offered greater responsibility, say "Yes."
Follow these rules and, one day, you'll be the person they call "Boss"--and you'll have food to eat.
Carla Emery P.O. Box 133 San Simon, AZ 85632
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Copyright 2004 by Carla Emery. All rights reserved.