The title says it all: another annoying article. This one, from the New York Times, admonishes oversavers: spend a little on indulgences to be "happy." Ants look too much to the future and so oversave. Here's the admonishment.
During the current recession, hyperopic Ants are presumably having a harder time than ever parting with their own cash, no matter how often President Obama and his economists urge them to do some stimulative shopping. But would these Ants — and the economy — be better off if they relaxed a little? (You can provide an answer at TierneyLab, nytimes.com/tierneylab. ) I asked Dr. Kivetz for his advice to shoppers.
“Don’t be too hard on yourself,” he said. “Obviously you need to be responsible and conserve your savings. But it’s been a depressing winter, and there’s nothing wrong with indulging yourself a little. This is a chance to reassess the quality and the balance of your life and to think how you’ll feel in the future. As long as you can afford it, it’s not a bad thing to be enjoying yourself.”
The key word above is "presumably." Much of the essay is filled with "research" from "scientists." But the key assumption is based in the word "presumably." "Presumably" savers are spending even less (or saving more) during the recession.
Hey, no one asked me! I'm a hyperopic ant, I suppose, and, since my job is safe (knock on wood; I have tenure), I'm spending as usual this year. If my job were in danger, you can bet your booty I'd be saving more. But, as it is, we are planning two trips for the family, one to each coast. Mr. FS and I are renewing our just-expired passports in case an irresistible trip to Europe emerges. Frugal Son will likely be spending a semester in France (to the tune of about $10,000).
And, as for material things, there's not too much we want. Last year, we had our roof fixed ($2,000.00), did a wonderful kitchen remodel (only $8,000.00 because of good planning), got new brick steps ($2,500.00). Oh yeah, we needed a new air conditioning system ($6,500.00). The steps and the kitchen are giving me a lot of joy, each and every day. The other stuff had to be done.
This year, I'll be getting new slipcovers for some chairs and maybe Mr. FS will get his fancy bicycle.
There is NOTHING material that I regret not spending on. I do regret forgoing a few trips abroad because Mr. FS and I were very anxious about continuing employment in the dark days of graduate school and just after. But the security of money in the bank made up for those "lost" trips and we're making up for them now that our employment is secure.
Indeed, it was time rather than money that kept us home: we needed to publish so as not to perish. And it was kids too. As soon as our job situations were somewhat secure, we had children--just two, late, and in pretty rapid succession. So it turns out we were making choices, based on our values. What could be more frugal than that?
So, to me, this is another frugal-bashing article. It ends, tongue-in-cheek, with something about regretting the plasma tv on your deathbed. At least I hope it is tongue-in-cheek.
The article is ostensibly all about finding balance, but honestly, frugal people seem more in balance than non-frugal people, who are having to deal with years of deficit spending. Those of my acquaintance are in a constant state of anxiety.
The great Amy Dacyszyn of Tightwad Gazette fame once concluded that to ask if one could be too frugal was like asking if one could be too happy. If frugality is defined as making the best use of resources (time, money, talents, and so on), then Amy is right. Aristotle would agree too.
Enough ranting! Dear readers: Do you have any regrets for the material things that got away? Do you think you are in balance? Share!