Welcome to my blog

Please don't remind me that I'm poor; I'm having too much fun pretending I'm simply "living green" like everyone else these days.


Saturday, March 7, 2009

No pictures.... just a story

Do you know what lifestyle inflation is? No? Well let me explain it. The lifestyle inflation concept is this...... you are living with your current paycheck. You are comfortable with the amount and all your bills are based on that amount. When you get a salary increase.... you also increase your spending by the amount of the new increase in your check. Each time you get another raise in salary you increase your spending. Thus.... lifestyle inflation.

When I was young; girls were expected to get married and have a family. Not once was I ever taught I should go to college and get myself a career. When a girl got a job it was believed her family needed the extra income and she was sent out to work to help the family. If a girl went to college it was only so she could find a professional type husband. Well, at least in my family that was the idea.

My grandparents... where I spent a lot of time when I was a child.... didn't have modern conveniences like indoor plumbing until the late 60s. They thought such things were foolishness.

When I was... oh maybe starting at about 6 years old.... I got paid to help pick crops on neighbor's farms. I was small which meant I was closer to the ground. It was easier to pay me to pick the low stuff than for a farmer to get a bad back from bending over all day. I was paid about 2 cents per container to pick fruits or vegetables which they sold to processing plants. A container was a basket. How big was a basket? I'm not sure but to a 6 year old it was hugh. I think it was maybe a bushel though.

My very first "real job" was as a cook when I was about 12. I worked for an aunt and uncle who owned the local hotel/restaurant in town. My main job was baking bread, biscuits, cakes, and pies for the meals the hotel served. I worked a full day and earned 3 dollars. I really thought I was "something" to earn that much money for doing what I did for free at home. I got to keep 2 dollars a week and the rest was given to the family. I was in high heaven to have that much money to spend on things I wanted.

I also helped clean the hotel or washed linins or washed dishes.... whatever needed to be done. The hotel had an indoor water pump and a wash room (laundry room). The water pump was operated by moving the handle up and down. You may have seen one of these pumps in western type movies. Washing was done by hand with a tub and scrub board. We heated the wash water on a coal fired stove in winter or a kettle on an outside fire in the summer.

I remember when my aunt bought a new fangled thing called a washing machine. She bought it from a traveling peddler that repaired pots and pans. The washing machine was like a barrel cut in half to make the U shaped tub. It had a paddle inside that the operator moved back and forth by moving a handle on the side. It also had rollers attached that would squeeze out the water from the clothes by turning a crank. I was soooo happy when I got to use the new washing machine instead of having raw hands. I could get the laundry done in record time.

But I'm getting away from the point of my story. Lifestyle inflation. Each time I moved up to a higher salary.... I spent it. I didn't understand about saving money for the future. I always thought I would get a husband and he would take care of me. I thought....Why did I need to save money when my husband will take care of me? I did have a hope chest though. A hope chest was just that.... a trunk or a chest that I put things into hoping I would eventually find a husband and I could use the things in my new life as a wife. I made quilts. I made linins. I bought dishes, silverware, pots, and these type things. The hope chest could also be considered a sort of dowery.

Well, as you know, I did eventually get a husband. He did indeed take care of me. He worked, I was a housewife. But, neither of us had ever been taught to keep a savings for future emergencies. When he earned more money.... we bought more and increased our lifestyle inflation. We taught our kids to be high consumers just like we were. We taught them.... by example.... to live a life of lifestyle inflation. I think many, many Americans taught their own kids this concept by example too.

Then along came credit cards. People no longer needed to wait for a raise to increase their lifestyle inflation. By simply filling out a form and signing up to be a slave to the credit card companies.... people got instant gratification. Yes, I do mean slave. When you sign away your future paychecks you are becoming a slave to someone. Your salary is no longer yours.... it's theirs. You work and they get the money.

Hmm.... another thought. Are you aware that if you buy a house with a mortgage you don't actually "own" the house? The mortgage company owns it. You are just renting it until you finish giving the mortgage company enough to pay for it.... then you own it.

If you open a business with a loan.... you don't "own" the business. You are just running the business for the loan company until the whole loan amount has been paid. At any time, the mortgage company or the loan company can take back what they are letting you use.

You might want to think about that concept for awhile the next time you think about your credit score. A credit score is your "slave potential" score. The higher the score.... the more slave worthy you are. Meaning you can get more instant gratification because credit companies know you are willing to be a slave much longer.

I think in our 2009 economic depression more people should think about less lifestyle inflation and more basic pay as you go. Meaning use cash instead of credit. If you don't have the cash..... start a savings and think of ways to increase the savings a little faster than just with a paycheck. Earn extra cash in some way to put into the savings. Does anyone remember the cookie jar savings accounts? I do. The cookies were pennies and nickles instead of actual cookies.

I'm hoping that some of the newly poor will turn to the idea of "repair man" type businesses. Does anyone remember shoe repair shops? How about appliance repair shops? We called them tinkers. Does anyone remember taking clothes to a seamstress for alterations? Or doing alterations ourselves? In my youth almost every woman owned a sewing machine and we made our own clothes.

Ok, I think I've rambled on enough for now. I have work to do that won't get done until I get in there and DO it. My groceries from yesterday's shopping need to be put away and some once a month cooking should be done today too.

No comments: