Monday, July 19, 2010


are happy people. From Jeff Yeager, author of "The Cheapskate Next Door" and probably my soulmate, some statistics about people he interviewed around the country who are living beneath their means. (Yes beneath, not within. Within isn't really within if there's any uncertainty in your life at all.) Didn't surprise me one bit. Emphases mine.
[O]nly about 10% have a written household budget ("we live our budget -- it's second nature -- we don't waste time writing about it," one cheapskate said); while they have savings in the bank, less than 15% have a formal "emergency fund" ("an emergency fund is for people who don't have their financial house in order otherwise," another cheapskate said); and more than nine out of ten say that they think, worry, and stress-out about money less -- not more -- than their non-cheapskate peers. They are 100+ times more likely to have a dog or cat adopted from a shelter than one purchased from a pet store; far more likely to own a crock-pot (or several) than an iPod or flat-screen TV; and they divorce at less than half the national average. These aren't your miserable, Scrooge-like cheapskates. These are folks who know what's important in life, and they skip the rest.
This economic downturn is great for two things: reminding people that money does not equal happiness, and that they can get by with a whole lot less money than they think. (And a third thing if you're on a fixed guaranteed salary: deflation =) I'm tired of hearing people with 6 digit household incomes whining about their finances and begging the government to do something to start the next bubble when they send their kids to private school and multi-thousand-dollar summer camps and buy new cars every five years and don't even blink before eating out or paying $20 to go a movie with the wife that they could rent for $1. We're the richest country in the world, GDP falling or not. We have it pretty darn good. We just have to remember how insanely high our standards have gotten, and readjust.

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