Wednesday, November 26, 2008

How do we get un-stupid?

I guess it’s pretty apparent that our economy is a blasted disaster. All day, all night the media expound on what is wrong and why. Panels of pundits weigh in and try to out-yell each other in the process. The arguing makes me nuts. I have to turn the channel.

Funny, while so many can’t come up with answers, my mom – who just turned 90 – explained it all to me last week as we were grinding cranberries for our traditional sauce.

First, let me say briefly that Mom grew up in Springfield, IL. Her folks ran a truck stop out on old Highway 36 called the “Hi-D-Ho.” She worked there. She’s always worked hard and guarded every penny.

I do all the grocery shopping for her, which isn’t easy because she is so tight with her money.

“Hey, Mom, I am here in the bread aisle and that raisin bread you wanted costs $2.50 a loaf, still want it? No? Well, I know how bad you wanted it. … I think you should go ahead and …”

But no way she is ever going to pay $2.50 no matter how much she wants that bread.

“That’s what is wrong with the whole country,” she says. “Nobody can tell themselves ‘no’ anymore. It’s ‘what the heck, just get it.’ If you want a big house and you don’t have the money, what the heck, just get it. If you want a big expensive SUV with fancy wheels and it’s totally impractical, what the heck, just get it. Need a vacation to Bermuda to take your mind off the fact you’re living from paycheck to paycheck? Just charge the trip.”

Mom says what is wrong with the country is not hard to understand. We’ve simply forgotten the fundamentals. She says good sense and an allegiance to buying what we need, not just what we want, simply does not exist in this country. She says the people who have it are few and too old to swing any weight.

She was appalled at the CEO who flew to DC burning through $20,000 instead of paying $250 for a fare. And he went there to plead for bailout bucks. Deals like this set my mom into orbit. Her sense of priorities when it comes to money has not changed since she was a waitress at the truck stop.

She’s not too happy that my generation and others have lost our minds and gone stupid. Mom says we need to get “un-stupid” and quick.

We need her kind of discipline to lift us out of this mess.


  1. Bravo!!! From another former truck stop waitress and now a team driver. This is what we all must do first and for most. We have to get our heads on straight!

  2. Mom knows best!!!!!!!!

  3. I THINK YOU IT THE NAIL ON THE HEAD... unfortunatly, I am, or should I say used to be part of that problem. I would emplor that we all get back to the basics! This econemyis going to hell in a handbasket way too quickly! Great job to the 90 year old grandmother! We need more of this put out there. Or maybe it will be good to let the america I gew up in learn the hard way...
    Either way, I agree!
    Roger Mackbach, 35, Augusta Maine.

  4. I agree PERFECTLY with your mom. I can...and do...say no. For example, I bought a new pickup a couple of years ago. I could have qualified for a loan for a $40,000 truck, but went for a basic work truck instead, as I didn't want to spend that much money on a truck. My daughter, on the other hand, wants to buy something just because she WANTS it. I relate to your mom so-o-o well, and I agree with the idea of that being the way of "fixing" the financial mess we're in now. I just don't know who taught the politicians math in school...750 million minus 750 milllion equals ZERO!!! NOTHING MORE LEFT TO GIVE!!!

  5. AMEN!!! Hey "MOM", why don't you go to Washington and tell the leaders of our country how to solve this mess. It is obvious to me that they don't have a clue and are shooting in the dark with our money!

    We can take a lesson from her and get "un-stupid" which would mean that I won't have to worry how this mess is going to effect the little guy!

  6. My mom is 73 and she would agree with your mom. Fortunately for us, we have moms like this who have taught us the value of our hard earned dollars and gave us the sensibility to discern between a good purchase and one that is driven by instant gratification. I say "Right On Mom!!! and thanks!!"
    Sandra Bendon, Member
    The Mother Load, LLC--Tampa, Florida

  7. Mom' right! I wonder why we always have to live through "tight times" to finally realize that self control and frugality are the only defense against them. Folks won't listen to experience, they have to live it.

  8. Amen to Mom & her wisdom!! Easy credit has gotten us into the financial mess that we are in. Now, we need to get back to an attitude of living within our means & waiting til we have the cash to pay for things. It seems that we can appreciate something more when we have to work for it.

    My husband loves raisin bread & I am like your Mom. I won't spend $2.50 on it, but we can find it at the local bakery outlet store for 50% off or even more if it is getting close to the outdate.

  9. Your mom must live next door to Arlo & Janis:

  10. Where would the economy be though if people did not over spend on stuff they don't need. How many were provided because we bought those big SUV's? Jobs are created because we buy things. Its because we cannot buy things now that's causing people to lose jobs. Its not that we should not buy things. Its just we need to spread the wealth so that more people can.

  11. Your mom is right! Her generation were careful and often pretty successful with money. My grandparents who were slightly older saved and were frugal for years so that when they reached retirement age they owned a home in Florida and lived there 6 months out of 12 to avoid the Canadian winters. They did that for almost 30 years! Some people are going back to the "old fashioned" wisdom. Check out Dave Ramsey...he gives advice like your mom and my grandmother but he keeps his teeth in. ;o)

  12. For the anonymous poster who wants to spread the wealth, could you mail me $1,000? I promise to spend every penny!

    I am trying to change my ways, and not spend more than I earn. Even save some each month. It is a difficult change, but one we all need to make.


  13. Yes of course we need to spend to grow and for all of us to have jobs, but we must spend wisely, not stupidly. That's the point.


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