Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Consuming Less is Not a Choice, But a Mandate

A lot of people are looking for easy answers to hard problems.  And when they read this blog, they dismiss it quickly, because I tell them such easy answers don't exist.

Note:  This is a draft from 2011, only completed today.

I get a lot of inquiries from people who are in debt, or want to "get rich quick!" and they are upset when I don't give them the "insider secrets to great wealth!" or whatever.

"I want to get out of debt," they say, "but I don't want to give up my Camaro, my jet ski, my Harley, my Cable TV, and my iPhone."

They want the equivalent of the "eat your way to slimness!" diet plan, and not surprisingly, they buy a lot of those as well.

And there is no shortage of humbug salesmen out there, with books, and plans and seminars and other nonsense about how you can "get out of debt!" very easily using "this one simple trick!" - as if you could throw a secret switch and suddenly erase years of accumulated debt and end up a millionaire.

And the debtor will grab at this lifeline, running up the last $500 on his credit card, to buy "the Money Plan!" and just end up even more depressed than before, as when "the Money Plan!" turns out to be a load of hokum, the debtor will assume that somehow he didn't work the plan right, which is why he is still mired in debt ($500 more, thanks to "the Money Plan!") and there must be something inherently wrong with him.

And people kill themselves over debt, which is silly and stupid.  It is just numbers on paper, not life itself.  You can start over, any time in life, and improve your lot, at least a bit.

But believing in something-for-nothing is only going to make things worse.

The harsh reality of life is this:  Most of us are not heirs to any fortune.  Most of us will not win the lottery.  Most of us will not become superstars or billionaires.  Most of us do not have a guaranteed pension.  Most of us have to work for a living.

And what this means is this:  If you want to accumulate any sort of wealth in life, you have to consume less and save more - and you can't do one without the other.  It is not an option. Well it is, but the other option is abject misery, squandering of your wealth through interest payments, and owning a lot of depreciating junk scattered around your trailer.

But when I say that, they move on to the next site which promises vast riches for only $199 on their credit card for the "secret tips 'n tricks!" to getting out of debt and becoming a millionaire.   And when it all goes horribly wrong, they blame the government or Wall Street.

Anyone, it seems, but themselves.