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The New Year, Debt, and Insanity...

January 9th, 2010 at 02:58 pm

I always love the fresh start in January, and if you plotted my post frequency here, well.. (maybe I'll actually do that for fun!). You know, - a new year, fresh beginnings, all that crap. Smile

I love doing the small things I can do to try to crawl out of debt - mainly economizing on food and cars and other household expenses. But as I was doing the math on the new year, I realize that that ain't enough! While we do finally now spend less than I make (except of course for college), the margin is pretty darn thin! So small stuff ain't gonna' do it. Frown

I have no real point here, just thinking out loud. And you know the old saw about insanity is doing the same old thing and expecting different results. I think I have managed on some level to convince my girls that money is hard to retain. They both realize they need to cut back on daily expenses and they do very well on that for the most part, but they love their big somewhat expensive trips. I guess you are only young once, and at least they know the trade-off they are making.

I think my malaise has to do with how the US has become a place where it is very costly to live! That has to be leading to our non-competitiveness, when you consider that we pay WAY more than most places to support our government. OK, maybe Europe etc. does pay more, but they get more in return, like HEALTH CARE! I'm mostly looking at China and India who are both chock full of people quite willing to do jobs we used to do for a LOT less, and IMO that has to be mainly due to a smaller government tax burden, cost of insurance, etc. Maybe not, but I think it's a good guess!

So anyway, help me out! How can I stop being insane, live a good life and pay off this darn debt?! What hurts me is I LOVE a frugal life, but trying to live like most Americans is what put us in this hole. That debt is mostly clothes, toys (I HATE AMERICAN GIRL), vacations, years of swim and dance lessons with associated costs, and eating out, AFAIK. We have always been pretty darn frugal on cars, buying good ones and driving them until they drop.

5 Responses to “The New Year, Debt, and Insanity...”

  1. DeniseNTexas Says:

    What kind of clothes and for whom? American Girl? Hmm, that must be a toy. Sorry, I don't have any little ones anymore so I'm out of the loop on some of this. But if its a toy, how about not buying them? Or setting a $ limit on what you'll spend in a year or six months or whatever? You could have an envelope for that and put a little here and a little there in it. Just thinking out loud here...
    Vacations..how many do you take a year and what do you usually spend? Swim and dance lessons... I can't help there, again no little ones and when my kids were little we really limited that stuff. It's okay to do it but so many kids today are simply overscheduled. Maybe you can cut back on the lessons a little. Eating out is pretty simple. Cook at home and don't eat out so much. Wink I know it's hard - it's an issue for me, too! I do menu plan and that helps a lot.

  2. Petunia Says:

    The simple (but not easy) answer is to just say no - to clothes, toys, vacations and eating out. Seriously. The trick in your case seems like it would be getting everyone else on board in a positive way. It sounds like you've made some productive efforts in that direction already.

    In our case, we buy most clothes at thrift stores, don't buy toys except at Christmas and birthdays, we camp for vacations and we don't really eat out.

    Last week I realized that I needed a black cardigan sweater. I thought about going to Sears and purchasing a Land's End fine gage cotton sweater for $20-$40 (I don't remember the exact price - I think they were on sale). Instead I went to a local thrift store and bought a 1/2 price ($5.00 marked down to $2.50) black cardigan that is actually nicer looking than the Land's End one.

    Multiply that type of decision by the number of those kind of decisions made by the average family and you'll have yourself some savings.

    Or, if I missed the boat, ignore this comment.

  3. momcents Says:


    How about giving your kids allowances and expecting them to purchase their own clothes, items, etc?

  4. boomeyers Says:

    I got three girls with those same costs! And the older they get, the more expensive their wants!! I meet them half way. I figure if they want something enough, they can earn half and I will cover half. If not, I guess they didn't want it bad enough. As for the dance and lessons, I think they are worth it to teach self discipline to children. Look at it as an investment instead of an expense!

  5. ralph Says:

    Thanks, everyone. Just to be clear, most of this is water under the bridge and now I am dealing with the resultant debt in the face of even more heavy load in the form of college costs. In hindsight, it would have been win-win to hold it back and teach them responsibility in the process. Hence the insanity!

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