Thursday, May 23, 2019

Too Frugal? Maybe Not.

The media doesn't want you to really save money.  But they will put together articles about saving money, hoping you click on them, so they make money.  But what they want to do, really, is to make saving money seem foolish, so you can self-justify your spendthrift ways.

Much of what you read online is bullshit these days.  And you can usually tell from the source.  You have outright Russian propaganda machines like Sputnik and RT, for example.  You have far-left "Isn't America Awful?" British tabloids like The Guardian.  You have right-wing websites like National Review and whatnot.   And you have click-bait sites that have names that sound legit, but on closer inspection as just sketchy.

One such site is Cheapism, which publishes click-bait articles on how to save money, which usually just turn out to be advertisements for consumption.  One recent article was "signs you are being too frugal!" and had catchy stock photos and text describing why your efforts to save money are just an idiotic waste of time.

I read the article and was chagrined to see that many of the things I do to save money were not only run-down as being false economies, but mocked as stupid.  Other things they claimed were "too frugal" were things that no one in their right mind does, anyway, but I think were added to pad out out the list (yes, it is a listical) and also make the other things on the list look ludicrous by association.

In a way, this article reminds me of a number of e-mails I have received from "reality TV" producers, who want to do a reality show about "cheap people" - but they wanted people who did ridiculous things that didn't actually save money but annoyed their family members.  Hilarity ensues.

But that is the point of the article - to make consumption seem "normal" and saving money (in both senses of the word) some sort of weird aberration.  I mean, everybody goes to Starbucks at least once a day, right?   Maybe not.

The point of the article is to mock people who are thrifty by painting them as outliers.    You are perfectly normal, my friend, helplessly mired in credit-card debt, but with a closet filled with trendy clothes and a $50 haircut.   At least you aren't one of those people.

What sort of things am I taking about?  Well, let's go down the list and see what I mean.
Do you reuse free plastic grocery bags as lunch sacks until they have holes (and your bought-on-sale banana slides right out)? So much for savings. Buy a lunch sack during back-to-school sales. It'll last you all year and you'll arrive to work with your food intact.
Right off the bat, you see here the mocking tone - and I think it is aimed at women.  You don't want to be the ugly girl that all the other secretaries mock, who buys on-sale bananas.  But the reality is, re-using these plastic grocery bags is an environmentally conscious thing to do - by getting more than one use out of such bags, you are decreasing the use of plastic overall.   I use them as trashcan liners for small trashcans, which then can be easily and cleanly emptied on trash day.  They also work well in the camper.  I even use them on our hitch ball as a dry lubricant.   They have tons of uses, so use them.

The author is suggesting, I guess, that we throw them out and helpfully suggests we buy a reusable lunch sack (spending money) to avoid bananas falling out.  But there is a big difference between re-using a plastic bag once or twice and re-using it after it has broken.   This "suggestion" is idiotic and sets the tone for the piece - mocking thrifty people for being idiots.
So, you keep the A/C off — or don't have it — and instead stock up on dollar-store hand fans to survive the heat. Pretty and retro, right? This will only get more dangerous over time, and you'll realize life really should be a breeze.
Again with the mocking tone.  There are two choices here, either you keep your house as cold as a meat locker, or you use "dollar store hand fans" to keep cool.   I am not sure why keeping your A/C at a higher temperature and acclimatizing to ambient temperatures is "dangerous" and it is not stated in the article.    When I was a kid in the 1960's, the thermostat was set at 72 degrees year round, the "normal" setting, which was often marked on the thermostat.

However, since the energy crises of the 1970's, we've learned that 68 in the winter is perfectly fine and 75 in the summer works OK, too.  In fact, you can go beyond  this.  Mark prefers to set the thermostat low in the winter at night, and snuggle under a comforter.  And in the summer, we set the A/C at 77 or higher, and dress appropriately.  Why?  Because the shock of going from 85-90 degree heat to a 72 or even 75 degree house is startling.  And once you "chill down" to low temperatures, it makes it harder to go outside.   Better to get use to a higher temperature than to stay indoors all day long.

Oh, and it saves a ton of money on your electric bill.
Your bargain meal at that great local sandwich shop comes with a free coleslaw or cookie. You don't think "Ah, what a treat" but instead see those add-ons as your next meal — your entire next meal. Just enjoy the side dish or dessert for what it is.
More mocking.  And more encouragement of consumption.   I have written before about restaurant meals and how they are no bargain.   This doesn't mean never eat out at all, only that restaurants should not be viewed as refueling stations.   If you are going to work, take a lunch rather than spend $15-$20 on a restaurant meal (which isn't hard to do these days).  Yes, bring your used plastic bag and banana (not on sale, though).

Many folks think that getting a restaurant meal and then "saving" half of it in a Styrofoam clamshell is somehow saving money.  "I'm getting two meals for the price of one!" they crow.  But even divided in two, a restaurant meal is still five times the cost of making food at home - where the real savings are.  And taking food home from restaurants is just gross - and dangerous.  Food left in a car can go bad in a real hurry.

The clueless idiot who wrote this Cheapism article instead suggests wolfing down food you don't want to eat.  How about not ordering food you don't want to eat in the first place?  Or how about not eating in restaurants so much?  Saving side dishes isn't something I've even heard of as a means of being "frugal" anyway - I think they are just making shit up.
Big shoulder pads looked of the moment on Melanie Griffith in "Working Girl," but you're still holding onto — and wearing — your power suit. Sure, fashion trends come and go but the snickers behind your back never die. Sorry to say, but it's time to embrace the world of separates — and 21st century styles.
Clearly the article is aimed at women (who are featured in most of the stock photos as well).  Ladies, being frugal is stupid!  That's the message they are selling.  They are also selling the idea that you should care about what other people you don't even know think about you or worry that others are laughing at you behind your back - you know, about your sack of bananas.

Is this how women really live?  Sadly, it seems so.   But the bottom line is, spending a ton of money on clothes is a sure way to go bankrupt.  I know a man who did this (male compulsive shoppers do exist, and not just at Harbor Freight) and went bankrupt from credit card debt.   Buy timeless clothing and never worry about having "the latest fashions."  This is harder for women to do, of course, but if you work for a place where what you wear is so important, maybe think about getting a different job.

And by Timeless clothing, I don't mean yoga pants. There's a style that's got lasting power.
You won't pay what they want for the newspaper. You won't even pay to access the digital version. Nope, you head to the library — day in and day out, rain, snow or severe heat — to read that passed-about copy for free. Fine for once in awhile, but every day?
What a weird thing to appear in an article from an online listicle clickbait company, eh?  Who buys paper newspapers anymore?  Most articles from even the major papers can be read online on your cell phone.  I know of no one, whatsoever, who trudges off to the "library" to read paper newspapers - because the "library" no longer carries them.  This is just stupid.
You have guests over for a backyard barbecue, stocking up on cheap plastic utensils in bulk. All's going well. People are enjoying. Then you tell them not to throw them out. No, you're not recycling … you're rewashing them. You can almost hear your guests' stomachs turning at the thought. Consider buying new party supplies on sale.
I have never heard of anyone doing this, but there are today quasi-disposable dishware and tupperware type products, that are designed for multiple uses.  I am not sure why anyone would object to washing disposable dishware - after all, that is what you do with ordinary china and silverware, right?   Again, the point of the article is to mock people being frugal as doing weird and kooky things.
Paper towels can be expensive, but you've found a way to beat the racket. The only problem is your entire kitchen — dish rack, blender and fridge handle — has become filled with perches to dry the towels you rinse and use again.
Nobody does this.   Again, they paint frugal people as weirdos.  Who the hell saves paper towels?
Doing your laundry as infrequently as possible might cut down on the water bill — or save some quarters at the Laundromat. But when you find out you don't have any clean skivvies and wash day's still not here, well, your thrifty ways have really put you in a pickle.
Again, no one does this - at least not to "save water."   A lot of people are lazy, to be sure, which is a sign of depression.  Or they have the hassle of having to use a laundromat.   Again, another padded item to fill out this listicle and to make frugal people look insane.
Everyone knows your go-to sweatshirt, especially since you boast about the money you save by not buying a fancy designer replacement. The problem? Yours is a virtual "Hall of Stains" tour, from the spilled nachos from Super Bowl XXX to the beers sloshed during your 25th high-school reunion picnic. It might be time to retire that legend.
Old clothes should be thrown away or donated to charity if you have stopped using them.  The old t-shirt and shorts and boots you use to mow the lawn might not fall into this category.  Clothing is an interesting problem, and as I noted before, a big cause of spending problems.  I have a friend who declared personal bankruptcy over compulsive clothing shopping.  There is a happy medium between wearing rags like a homeless person and spending your every last dollar trying to be trendy and hip.  Interesting that this is the second item in the listical that addresses clothing.   And we wonder who is sponsoring this list.

I keep a box in my closet, and when I see an article of clothing that is wearing out or doesn't fit anymore (darn things shrink in the closet!) or I just don't wear anymore, it goes in the box.  When the box is full, we take it with us on our way into town and donate it to the charity store of our choice.

By the way, these "thrift shops" are often an excellent place to score clothing that you might actually wear and that might actually fit.  I have found vintage Tommy Bahama Hawaiian shirts in thrift shops, 100% silk that sold for over $100 new, for only a few dollars.  It is my one sartorial vice.   Beats paying $150 a shirt at the store - and they don't make the classic old designs anymore.
You not only turn off the light every time you leave the room but refuse to "waste money" on light bulbs when one blows out. The result? You have a very dim life — literally — and may soon need not only new lights but eyeglasses to boot.
OK, this is another stupid one.  I know of no one who sits in the dark because they don't want to "waste money" on light bulbs.  Again, painting thrifty people as weird oddballs.
The words "all you can eat" are music to your ears. You arrive at the buffet the moment the doors open and make not only a meal but a day of it, with plate after plate after plate. Enough! Indulge if you will, but set a time limit. The restaurant — and your stomach — will thank you.
This isn't being thrifty, this is an eating disorder.   Mark and I hate buffets for a number of reasons. Coming from the restaurant and hotel industry, Mark is all too aware of how food safety is often compromised in a buffet, sneeze guard or not.   People touch things or even put things back.  It is also gross over-consumption and leads people to over-consume.   In addition, the restaurants are no fools - they put a lot of cheap starches out so people fill up fast, and then let the expensive items go empty for long stretches of time, as I noted in my passive-aggressive seafood restaurant entry.

You are not "saving money" at any restaurant, either by taking home leftovers or by gorging at a buffet.   So in a way, I kind of agree with the authors here.  Trying to find a "bargain" at a restaurant is like trying to score a "deal" at a used-car dealer.  You are just deceiving yourself that you are coming out ahead.
You've read the sale circular. You know the grocery store limits you to four of an item per visit. Well, you'll show them — you shop different branches, different days and different cashiers until you can't even store all that toilet tissue you've amassed. Fortunately there are plenty of ways to save at the grocery store without going overboard.
I have written about coupons before and how they are a false economy, often designed to get you to spend more (on name brands) or consume more (by buying things you didn't intend to buy in the first place).  Coupon-clippers never get ahead in life, which is why it is a popular sport among the poor.

I agree with the authors in that regard, but disagree that there are "plenty of ways to save at the grocery store without going overboard" whatever that means.   Again, the grocery store is a marvel of modern retail engineering, designed to fleece you for your last penny, just as the car dealer is.  If you think you are "outsmarting" Walmart or Safeway, think again.
You squeeze every last drip of tea from your teabag, using it multiple times. Bad enough your family has to watch the madness, but lately you've taken to carrying the used teabag with you — asking counter people and servers to simply bring you a cup of boiling water.
While it is possible to pour more hot water into your cup and make more tea (particularly with Trader Joe's potent Irish Breakfast Blend) I know of no one who brings used teabags to a restaurant.   I do know two people who carry tea bags with them (new ones, not used ones, come on!) as many restaurants don't carry tea anymore or they run out or the server "can't find it" because it is not very popular in America.   Bring a tea bag, you always have a hot beverage.   Nothing wrong with that.

Again, they are using extreme hypotheticals (people carrying used teabags around) to make being frugal look stupid.   You should be going to Starbucks and spending $5 on a coffee-icecream drink, dummy!
You pride yourself on not buying throwaway bottles of water, or even a pricey reusable container. No, you bought a plastic bottle at the store — once — and have been "washing" it out and refilling it with tap ever since. Yes, it's a bit worn and cloudy but, um, you showed them?
I know of no one doing this, either.  I have tried to cut back on buying bottled water as it is a waste of money in most places in America (outside of Flint, Michigan) where tap water is some of the highest quality in the world.   However, when camping, we buy "purified water" (not spring water) because, as we learned in Mexico, foreign bacteria in local water supplies often ends up causing mayhem with your intestines when you travel.  At $3.99 for a case of 36 bottles, it is not too great an expense.

And no, bottled water isn't inherently evil, nor is Nestle raping the planet (while Coca-Cola and others, doing the same thing in union plants, are OK).

But we've gotten out of the habit - long ago - of buying bottled water for home use.  As for those "pricey reusable containers" they give those away for free at events and conventions.  I have a box of these things, and we do use them when at home (for example, when bicycling).   In the house itself (or in the buggy or bicycle) we use the 4-for-$20 Walmart Yeti knock-off stainless tumblers.  They come in three sizes.

But re-using disposable plastic bottles?  Maybe in an emergency.   But again, it is the mocking tone of the piece which is concerning.
Why buy a pair of socks when a few stitches can extend the life of what you already have? Sure, it's easy to repair a hole, but when one hole becomes two and then three, your feet suddenly look like Frankenstein's monster — and you suffer extreme embarrassment when asked to take off your shoes visiting someone's home.
Buy Dickies socks.  They are durable, comfortable, and actually fit.  End of story.  But again with the mocking tone - by design.
Baby bangs, anyone? Most everyone has horrid memories of a money-saving mom who chopped their hair at home. Bowl haircuts and uneven edges were a given. But you still do that? And have to go to work? Fine for you, but for goodness sake, don't subject your partner or kids to those extreme measures.
OK, now we get to the meat of this.  Cutting your own hair saves a boatload of money - hundreds of dollars a year.   Our local barbershop charged $20 apiece plus tip, plus the cost of driving there - to listen to Rush Limbaugh for an hour while you waited, and another half-hour for the cut.  Each.

Figure two haircuts a month, that's easily $80 to $100 a month (with travel expenses) not to mention the time wasted.  That's $1200 a year, which if invested over a 45-year working life at 7% interest comes to $392,105.06 in retirement.  We're not talking chump change.

For trendy people and women, who often spend hundreds per "styling" including perms, colors, and whatnot, the cost is even more staggering.  And yes, poor people often spend more on hair than rich folks.  Black folks spend staggering amounts of money on hair, as Chris Rock has noted.

Of course, when you are working in a job where your appearance to customers and clients is important, and you are judged by your appearance more than your productivity, having a hair helmet might be essential.    But for the rest of us?  Just an expensive waste of time.

And we're not alone.  Mark gives his "prison haircuts" in the garage to two friends of ours, as well.  He charges two cigarettes per haircut.   With three, you get happy-ending.

But in all seriousness, this is a huge money-saver.  But the condescending tone of the article makes it seem like idiocy.    It isn't.
YOU BELIEVE BIRTHDAYS ARE NO TIME TO SPLURGE:  It's time to light the candles on the birthday cake and sing the festive song. But imagine the real surprise on people's faces as you pull out used candles of varying heights. A box of birthday candles is cheap, and try to remember: This is a special occasion.
Holidays are fine and all, but once you've gotten that shiny new bicycle for Christmas when you were seven years old, the allure wears off.   After more than 50 Christmases, well, it seems kind of overblown.   Well, at least it is Jesus' birthday, and there is a religious aspect to it.

Your own birthday?  Grow up, for chrissakes.   Mark and I don't really celebrate birthdays too much anymore.  Maybe a small gift and a card, or we go out to eat.   But having cake and candles, and all your friends over?   No, it is not a special occasion.   And like with Christmas, once you've done the same thing over 50 times, it becomes less special.  Oh, sure, you may mark "milestones" like 40, 50, or 75, or God forbid, 100.   But you aren't special and the whole idea of "your special day" (or worse yet, "her special day" - the wedding) is just an exercise in narcissism.

As for "saving birthday candles" this is again of these idiotic things that is put in the list just for mocking purposes.  No one really does this, and if they did, who gives a fuck?

It never ceases to amaze me how people think birthdays are "special" and the fact they share their birthday with someone else in the room or a famous celebrity is some sort of 1-in-a-million odds, rather than a 1-in-365 odds.  Get over yourself, unicorn!
You never hit a fast-food restaurant that doesn't up your condiment quota, so you haven't bought salt, pepper, ketchup, or mustard for the family in years. But when it's needed for a recipe, even you will be cursing as you open a dozen packets to get a half-cup of something.
Collecting condiments is something old people do.  Restaurants rush to grab all the sugars and "pinks" from the tables when the senior bus tour rolls up - they know from bitter experience that old people will steal all the artificial sweeteners to take home with them.  A friend of mine does this - taking them from hotel rooms and restaurants and giving them to me.  I now have a lifetime supply, which is to say, five or six packets, as we never use these.  But we keep them in a small basket for guests who like that shit in their coffee.

I don't intentionally snag condiments, but if I see something that would ordinarily be thrown away, I might save it in one of our picnic hampers - but am sure to throw it out in short order if it is not used.  By the way, picnic hampers, usually replete with all these utensils, plates, and whatnot, are often given as gifts to people, who never use them.  They end up selling them in garage sales for pennies, or they are given to the thrift store where they are sold cheaply.  Most are made poorly, but will last for weeks or even years if treated well.   We have one in a backpack that has an insulated portion for cold things.   We actually use these types of picnic accessories, but after a few years they go in the trash as they are often not made well.   But yea, condiments can be handy for picnics.  Sadly, most Americans don't picnic anymore  - they get fast-food and eat it in their car.  But that is a subject for another posting.

Similarly, when the restaurant gives you a pile of napkins, I put the two or three extra in my pocket, because you know, sneezing.  I left them behind, the wait staff would just throw them away.   We keep these in the glove box for just in case.   This is not being "stingy" or thrifty, but just practical.   If you've ever had to sneeze in a car and there are no tissues or napkins in the glove box, you'll know what I mean.  Or maybe you are one of those people who drives a rolling pigsty.  Yea, I've seen it.  Gross.

Intentionally stealing condiments to save for "later"?   Yea, that is kind of dumb.  People do it, though.  Like with couponing, they aren't getting ahead or anything.
There's nothing like a basket of warm rolls to start a dinner on a night out. And that's when you pull out the plastic container. Waiters react with shock that your small party could go through so much so quickly. You just laugh as you pull them out for lunch the next day. But is a cold, stale roll really worth the stealth maneuver?
This listicle seems to be repetitive and covering the same topics many times.  Just as trying to "score" with a buffet, trying to "score" with free bread is kind of dumb.  You will end up spending 2-3 times as much (if not 5-10 times as much) buying food in a restaurant versus a grocery store.  Free bread isn't going to even the score.

The problem is, of course, that bread is great and good for you, but too much of it is just empty calories and a lot of them.   Free tortilla chips at the Mexican restaurant are the same way.   You can consume hundreds of calories of starches with bread and chips, and it is a one-way ticket to diabetes land.

Stealing bread for home use?   That is kind of tacky, but then again, I've seen it all.  We put on receptions at the art gallery when Mark has a show.  And yes, some folks show up early with ziplock bags and say, "I can't stay for the opening, but my husband would like to try some of these hors d'ouvres" as they stuff their plastic bags with food.

A local restaurant - and the club hotel - had to discontinue "happy hours" with free hors d'ouvres when old people would show up (many from the campground, I am ashamed to say) and order water and then scarf down free food.  There is such a thing as being too cheap - and being tacky.
It's an age-old household trick: cutting up old sheets or shirts to use as rags. But when your family suddenly realizes their favorite shirts are missing and see you wiping windows with them, does it still seem like such a good idea? There are plenty of other DIY tricks for cleaning the house that won't annoy your family.
OK, we are supposed to throw away that old sweatshirt once it gets worn, but now we're not suppose to use it to wax the car?  MAKE UP YOUR FREAKING MIND, CHEAPISM!   Again, I guess we are supposed to throw out our clothes, buy new ones and then buy cleaning rags.   Makes sense to me - the bottom line being buying more crap.

We recycle old washcloths as wax rags.  Old towels become carwash towels (and I have boxes for both, and use them a lot - we keep our cars clean).   Other articles become rags for messy jobs like oil changes and scrubbing nasty things - where you want something more substantial than a paper towel, but you want to throw it out, as well.  Old sheets make great car covers to keep dust off the car in the garage when it sits for weeks or months at a time.

Clothing that can be re-used?  It goes to charity.
You sneer at those who brag about money-saving staycations filled with hometown restaurant deals, free-admission museums, and bargain movies. You do them one better: Your staycation is just staying home. Literally. DVDs, watching the birds fly by … yep, your family will sure have unforgettable "vacation memories."
The idea of a vacation to most Americans is just a series of spending opportunities - hence why cruises are so popular these days.   People are nervous when they don't know what to do, and most vacation destinations provide opportunities to spend money on various activities or buying souvenirs.  Disney is also genius at this.  Some people actually borrow money to do this, either with "vacation loans" or through using credit cards.

Our life is a vacation.  We spend months on the road in the RV.  Or we fly overseas and rent an apartment or a houseboat.  It is possible to "vacation" without vacation being an endless stream of credit card receipts for airfare, hotels, and restaurants.
You absolutely refuse to order a drink outside the house. "No, thanks, water's fine" is your mantra. We're not pushing cocktails necessarily — but every once in awhile, it's nice to join in the toast with something besides tap water on ice.
Having a fun cocktail at one of these "artisan" cocktail bars is nice.  We like to go to "Sidecar" next to V Pizza in Jacksonville.  It is a trend - a new one just opened here in impoverished Brunswick, called "Reid's Apothecary" - I give it six months in this town.  It is fun - and expensive.  On the order of $10 to $15 per drink.  Have two or three of these, and you've blown a half-a-day's take-home pay, if you are an average American.

Seriously.  Do the math on this.  You make the median household income of about 50 grand a year, that comes to about $900 a week gross pay, or maybe (if you are lucky) $100 a day in take-home, after taxes.  You're going to spend half of this on a few Vieux Carr√© cocktails?  Like with food, you can make such a cocktail at home for less than 1/4 the cost, maybe far less.  And this doesn't mean drinking alone in a darkened room.  For less than the cost of bar drinks, you can invite all your friends over and make them drinks - and you will be popular with your friends if you do so.

But that being said, it is fun to have a fancy cocktail or whatever when you go out.  But after that first drink, switch to something cheaper.  If you are with friends, consider a bottle of wine or a pitcher of beer.  Look for drink specials or happy hour specials, which can be less than half the regular price of drinks at your favorite bar.

Or consider AA - the coffee is free.
You take sharing to new levels making your family of four dine on one appetizer, two entrees, and one dessert. Sure, you can boast about dining for less than $25, but did anyone actually enjoy the "meal" or go home satisfied?
Splitting an entree is one way to really save money at a restaurant - and your waistline.  Most restaurants today provide entrees that top 1000 calories easily, some over 1500.  This is way too much food for one person to eat in one meal.  Not only will ordering two entrees for two people drain your pocketbook, it will make you feel sick and bloated later on, and likely you will end up waking up in a sweat about 2:00 in the morning.

Note how this listical starts out with ludicrous things (bringing used teabags to restaurants) and then slips in the real savings later on - to make real savings sound stupid.   But again, not eating in restaurants all the time is probably the best idea.  Using a restaurant as a kitchen and trying to "save money" by taking home leftovers or stealing bread is indeed stupid, when you can make meals at home for 1/4 of the price - or less.

But if you go out to eat, there is no rule saying you have to order and eat the mountain of french fries or the mountain of mashed potatoes or rice or [fill in cheap starch here].   The portions in restaurants are obscene today, as are the proportions of the diners.  It is better for your health and pocketbook to share an entree - and a fun way to be intimate with your partner as well.
Car wash costs can add up — but you won't fall prey to those soapy thieves. Nope, you will wash your own. Who cares that you don't have a hose, right? But after about 10 trips in and out of the kitchen with buckets of water, don't you start having second thoughts? Thought so.
Buckets of water from the kitchen?   Have they not heard of a hose?  We keep our cars spotless.  But it only takes a few minutes with a hose, a bucket (from dollar tree) a sponge (ditto) and car wash soap (ditto).   For less than a buck, and in about 20 minutes time, you can do a better job of washing your car at home than some $20 carwash would do - and it won't damage your car, either.  Yea, those spinning brushes leave marks in the paint.

Those old towels or even sweatshirts can be used to dry the car spot-free.  It takes a few minutes of your time - less time than spent at a car wash, in fact.   But for some reason, this is a "ridiculous" thing and the only way to do it, according to them, is by bringing buckets of water from your sink.

Again, the whole point of the article is to encourage laziness and consumption.  Even reasonable things like splitting an entree or washing your own car are shouted down as being ridiculous as carrying around used teabags.

But of course, they don't want to piss off their advertisers, who want you to consume.  And that is the problem with so many "financial" sites these days - they are sponsored by companies that are selling things, so they don't want to advertise on a site that says, "stop buying crap!"   People who start out giving rational advice - like Sooze Orman - morph into cheerleaders for brands who sponsor them.  So the Sooze says to keep a car for a decade or more, until Buick pays her to say, "Gee, these lease deals aren't so bad, are they?"

You see how it works.

Not clicking on clickbait like this is a start.  Consuming less media in general is a good next step.  Trust me when I say that not knowing the latest outrage from Washington isn't going to diminish your life in the least, but actually enhance it.

And it goes without saying that getting financial advice from the media is like asking a rapist for advice on your sex life.