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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Overheard at the Food Bank Thrift Shop: Demographics High and Low

Since I had to return some items to the library (frugal habit number 1), I stopped--as is my wont--at the Food Bank Thrift Shop (frugal habit number 2). This is a rather weird thrift store, but the cause is a good one and I like to patronize when I can. The store caters to a much poorer demographic than Goodwill; many customers have vouchers for free clothing.

Tuesday is always a crowded day at the Food Bank next door. I have noticed that the cars are very fancy--many a Lexus and the like. I always thought these were the volunteers.

Au contraire, as it happens. The new guy working at the shop was regaling a customer with "things I've seen." He mentioned that people with iPhones and designer bags walk in with vouchers for $200 in food and clothing.

He said, "These people were only one paycheck from the Food Bank."

WOW. Be a good steward of your resources and amass that emergency fund (frugal habit number 3).


Jane said...

Working on it. I have joined a February challenge - a NO Spend month with all extra $$ going to pump up the EF! I don't have to worry about job loss, like a lot of people, but I don't want my budget KO'd by a big repair - car or household so this is a HUGE goal.

hostess of the humble bungalow said...

My heavens that's shocking and scary...
what a wake up call.

Duchesse said...

So often a prosperous looking life is built on a precarious dependence on credit. One of my friends was a CA in LA. He told me, "My clients don't care what it costs ,they only care whether they can handle the payment".

Anonymous said...

Years ago, when I was preparing to purchase my first car I asked my banker what percentage of my salary I should use as a guidepost in car-shopping. I was floored when he said 40%! Needless to say, I did not spend that much, but it did cause me to ponder the difference in values. Some spend their money on housing, some on flashy transportation, some on books, some on clothing, some on eating out, etc.

FB @ said...

That is amazing. And they're not scamming the system??

Anonymous said...

There's been anonymous moms on forums I've been on... worried about driving their Lexus SUVs into the local food bank. They never saved for a rainy day, bought too much house etc, and someone lost their job. And they need to feed their children. I definitely feel for them, but at the same time wish they'd thought to save more or not over-extend when they were making huge 6 figure plus salaries. It's hard to replace a huge salary and no guarantee that it will always be there.

SewingLibrarian said...

My husband's family used to own a Cadillac dealership, and I can totally relate to this post. Lots of people buy cars that are way beyond their means, and, as we have seen, they buy houses, too. I don't understand it, but then, I was reared by depression-era parents of Scottish ancestry. As for my husband, having been in the business, he's even less willing to shell out big bucks for a car. He knows how much value is lost the minute one drives it off the lot.

Frugal Scholar said...

@Jane--I find stuff like that thrilling. Good luck in reaching your goal.

@hostess--I felt like that exactly. How can people be so close to the edge?

@Duchesse--LA has always been known for lifestyles built on illusion--more recently, I think, all parts of the country succumbed.

@Terri--I can't believe a banker told you that. Is he still working for the bank?

@FB-I don't think it's scamming if you lost your income.

@nicole--I have the same ambivalence. Scary stuff.

@Sewing--That's kind of like a section in the Millionaire Next Door. the authors discuss the fact that auctioneers are often very frugal--they see how cheaply things sell when the owners are forced to liquidate.