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Sunday, December 26, 2010

"Austerity" is Word of the Year

We had a Word of the Year?
Merriam-Webster Announces "Austerity" as 2010 Word of the Year. Economic conditions have pushed this word to the top of the Top Ten Words of 2010.

"Enforced or extreme economy" is the definition Merriam-Webster gives for austerity. In economics, spending on social programs, benefits, and social spending are cut in order for the government to to cut deficit spending.

Personal Austerity
In our lives and personal economies we should reduce spending when it outpaces our income and ability to pay our debts. In 2010 Greece, Italy, Ireland, and Japan, amongst others turned to austerity programs. Should we not do the same? I think so. Actually, we should cut our spending even when we can afford the spending we are doing. Since nothing is assured about most our jobs, cutting back and saving for a rainy day if possible should be a priority. Cutting back on spending should not be a knee-jerk reaction to a hard situation--for governments or persons.

Austerity or Parsimony?
My own austerity measures aka spending less seem extreme to some folk. I talked about cutting up a used Christmas for reuse and how to save on all the little Christmas supplies--tags, cards, wrapping paper, and ribbons. Today, I went out late for an errand. At the stores I browsed the leftover Christmas trappings marked at 60% off. Where are the 90% off items like other years? Never mind. I looked at the gift tags, 24 for $2.99! That is ridiculous. These were actually folded, a miniature card.

Am I that old?
Okay, so I am showing my age, but I can remember when the little oblong tags with strings were ten cents for several dozen. Yes, I would cut up a Christmas card to save a dime. You wouldn't? Shame on you! Would you cut up a Christmas card to save $2.99? Well, if you would not, today you could have those 24 gift cards for $1.19 on sale. Let's see: $1.19/24=$0.05...that's 5 cents, folks.

Yes, my parsimonious self will stoop so low to save 5 cents. That would be two cards cut up to make 24 new things, saving $1.19. The card gets used once more before going to the landfill. Okay, so disregarding the good effects on the earth, it's still money that we work for that we are not spending.

Food austerity measures--dumpster diving, foraging, getting market scraps, gleaning, and food banks. Yes, I am money-challenged. No, I never get in the dumpster. And, please, let's call it safari from now on.

Christmas present austerity--giving old but new looking items to grandchildren and friends; using Coke rewards for magazines subscriptions for gifts; using Office Max recycling for getting an almost free 12 mega pixel camera for 9 yr old granddaughter; taking used Matchbox cars offered for grandchild; crocheting doll blanket; giving 25-year-old Cabbage Patch Doll; giving yard sale infant seat for doll; making doll clothes; fringing free fleece baby blanket for doll blankets. I cut the baby blanket into quarters, so I can make blankets for other grandchildren. I did have to purchase some pesky farm animals that I asked for on Freecyle before buying them.

Clothing austerity--took a used fleece coat to wear (yard coat) when it was offered; wearing another coat I made; wear two, cute, nylon coats/jackets that are 20-years-old; resisted buying a really warm coat that I need; bought 8 sweatshirts for $1 each on sale last year (all purple--ick!); wear only leather shoes but for a long time and take them in for repairs. Up until recently I made all my clothing including bras and panties. Nope, they do NOT look homemade.

Paper austerity--all greeting cards and envelopes are bought at yard sales. (450 business envelopes for $.50) I moved the printer away from me so that I must unplug my laptop and go to the printer, uncover the printer, plug in the printer, plug laptop into printer, balance the printer while I print. Consequently, I find very little need to print.

Fashion austerity--not about clothing exclusively--the latest gadget, latest car, newer model washer or dryer, and going where everyone else is going just to keep up. Hey, we have a term for that, "keeping up with the Joneses."

I just don't buy many things, preferring to fore go what it seems others have. For my silliness, I am able to afford things that a person in my income bracket should not be able to buy. I wear lots of sweatshirts in the winter, often two at a time. I hate purple, but these were a bargain. Who will see me in the house, in the yard, or in the bed. Yes, some nights I wear a sweatshirt to bed.

Buying quality does not mean being cheap. Austerity does not rule out quality purchases. I have just learned how to be soooo parsimonious that my money goes farther. Okay, sometimes it cannot be stretched a bit more, even if I need something.

Some of my friends chide me for not using paper towels, paper plates, and plastic utensils when I entertain. They call it foolishness and silliness, and say I should not have to wash all the permanent items, substitutes for disposable in their minds.

Governmental irresponsibility
Do you think governments would have deficit spending if they handled money like KatyDonna, or Carol  do now?

Life plan austerity
My austerity plan is a life plan, not just cutting back as the means to getting by right now or until I have more disposable income. I wonder if governments will be as careful with money after the crisis facing many governments around the world. I doubt it since most governments are cutting salaries or not giving raises.

Your turn
Did you turn to money-saving measures when you discovered that more money was going out than coming in? Even if we ignore the fact that many money-saving measures are green and good for the planet, do you think people would be so willing to take on the same projects just to save money. Oh me, oh my. Isn't it sort of crass to be doing silly things like gleaning just to save money. Gleaning is hard, sweaty work.  We must have a nobler cause, helping the environment, before some of us will turn to methods that do save money. Right? Yard sale Christmas cards? For such a glorious celebration? Shouldn't they be new like the Child some adore? Okay, this seems like a rambling post now that I have read it over. What say you? Let's not talk about the government problems. What is your take on personal austerity?

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