Monday, November 19, 2012

Sweet Revenge

Since the election, a drive has begun to secede from the Union.  By now residents of all 50 states have submitted petitions to the White House.  Now this is just plain silly.  But there is a way for those dissatisfied with the outcome of the election to get sweet revenge, and it very simple – live within your budget!

Recent financial news reports a 0.3 percent drop in consumer spending in October, the first decline in 4 months.  Part was blamed on Super-storm Sandy but the administration and corporations hope that the “sales slump will probably reverse as brighter job prospects, rising home prices and sturdier finances boost household confidence. At the same time, [the] report showed Americans bought fewer non-essentials, which may reflect mounting concern over possible tax changes and limited wage growth that pose risks for the biggest part of the economy.”  Since it accounts for over 70% of economic activity, a belt-tightening in the area of consumer spending is a major concern.

Now suppose nearly half of the consumers decided to cut back, to get back to their values, to spend on needs and on those things that bring real happiness, rather than on temporary satisfaction of an impulse or desire.  Suppose nearly half the nation increased their 401(k) contribution or built up a college fund for their children.  Suppose they cancelled vacation plans and spent time closer to home, buying locally and spending less.  Suppose they put off buying a new car for an extra 6 months.  Suppose they cut back on restaurant meals in favor of eating at home and ate less in general.  Suppose they took a walk around the block instead of going shopping to replace perfectly good items in their closets with whatever is newer and trendier.  Suppose people continued from the good start in September by paying down expensive credit card debt and put off new purchases until they could afford them instead of charging them based on an expectation of future increases in pay or home equity.  What would happen?

Certainly the economy would not crash.  Not enough people would go along with this plan to make a major impact.  On the other hand, those who did would be doing their share to not support an administration they oppose.  In addition they would be happier and less stressed, among those least concerned with the fiscal cliff - the latest crisis that the news media and Washington are panicking over.  They would be learning to live in closer harmony with their core values of faith, family, etc. by taking a long, hard look at how they may have been wasting money on products and services that over the long run don’t add value to their lives.  They would be exercising more discipline, saying no to their children and especially to themselves, adjusting to more realistic expectations, not chasing after material possessions or temporary entertainment that they believe will make them happy, but soon fade, overshadowed by the next wave of hype-induced yearning.

I’ve always told people that my comments here are not political, and if the election had gone the opposite way, I would be advocating this course of "revenge" to a different disgruntled group.  In fact, my hope is that enough people adopt this course of behavior, strong in perspective and discipline, so that others (of all political beliefs) see the wisdom of the decision and join in.  Let's make it cool to be financially responsible, thinner, less harried, and less intent on spending just to impress others or feel better about ourselves.  It’s the right thing to do, the road to a happier, healthier, more fulfilling life and a lot smarter than waiting for either political party to solve our problems.

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