I suck with money. I'll admit that right from the start. If I didn't suck with money, this blog would be called Country Living Paradise, or Windcrest Paradise, not Trailer Park Paradise. (Everyone else living here sucks with money too. No one wants to live in a trailer park. No one sane, anyhow.)
I'm smart enough, however, to realize I need to reform my ways. Spend less on Diet Pepsi, quit eating out, etc. Stretch dimes into dollars like my aunt did. (Not like my mom did. My mom spent the money on nonessentials and got the utilities turned off & us kicked out of wherever we were living for nonpayment of the rent.) Being a bookworm by nature, I turn to books to get financial advice.
Let's just say I haven't been impressed yet.
Probably my favorite is Dave Ramsey. He's the Grand High Poobah of financial independence. He's got a website, you know. His website has a store. He'll sell you lots of stuff to help you not spend money. Think about that for a second. Think really hard.
Then think some more. Ramsey's big thing is an envelope system. Apparently, he doesn't trust banks. You're supposed to take all your money and divide it up into different envelopes and then spend only what's in that envelope for stuff. A smart idea, perhaps, if you leave aside the fact that there are not a lot of rich people who stuff all their cash in envelopes. But this is what bugs me about Dave Ramsey:
This is his Designer Envelope System, which you can buy from his online store for only twenty dollars plus shipping.
Perhaps it's just me, but I think that if you're going out and buying a Designer Envelope System, you're sort of missing the point of frugality.
It is because of things like this, as well as the relatively high cost of his products (I cannot, frankly, afford $259 for his at-home Financial Peace study system--I didn't pay that damned much for my Weight Watchers kit back in the day), that I mistrust Dave Ramsey as a personal finance guru. I'm all for capitalism, but damn. Be honest about making money off the backs of the stupid, will you? Don't pretend you're helping folks cure poor spending habits and then encourage them to spend money on stupid shit like fancy "envelopes."
By and large, I've had issues with some or all of the frugal living advice I've come across. I remember one website that was filled with frugal ways to make your own dryer sheets. Nowhere was it mentioned that it's one hell of a lot cheaper to string a clothesline. (You don't need fabric softener for line dried clothes.)
Years ago, when reading a copy of The Complete Tightwad Gazette I'd checked out of the library, I came across an article by the Frugal Zealot herself, Amy Dacyczyn, wherein she said she'd received many tips over the years for homemade baby formula. She refused to print any of them because a) they weren't adequately nutritious (which could be said for commercial formula, but I digress) and b) it doesn't get any cheaper than breastfeeding.
There are a lot of people out there as dumb with money as I. The difference is that I'm not out there dictating to other folks how they should save money. I'm just trying to find my way. I need to make $167 to pay for the background check and admission fee for the nursing school I'm trying to get into. I have $59.22 in my PayPal account. That means I've got $107.78 to go. I'll let you know how I progress, and how I make any money I make. (I'm still looking for a job.)
I'll leave you with one final thought: