Sunday, July 29, 2007

I love financial gurus.

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:


Mark said...

Typical Pyramid Scheme like Amway and others. Save your moeny I can give you advice for free. If your bills aren't paid you can't afford it. I've been living on that since my divorce and I have no problems. My bills are paid every month with a little left over to splurge on the kids. granted the new school supplies will be a small problem, but I'll make it go.

Sabra said...

Our main problem is that my husband's job requires him to pay for gas for his work van. It is getting better now that they have a new GPS system in place that mostly prevents him from being sent from the south side of San Antonio clear out to Canyon Lake, but there have been a couple of weeks where I had to take $40 so I could buy gas for my car and a few groceries and literally everything else went into his gas tank. (These are the ~$200 paychecks he's gotten a time or two.)

He needs a better job, but being a submarine torpedoman doesn't prepare one for much in the civilian world. (I need a job, too, and I'm trying.)

Mark said...

I posted on tractor tracks about an envelope stuffing gig I had. It was real and it paid but for me already working full time + OT, then stuffing envelopes until the wee hours of the morning, then opening store a few hours later it was wearing. As a stay at home mom, you have one job, (Mothering) plus the housework, if you think you can swing it you might look into the envelope stuffing gig. I will tell you though you will need at least 1 room where you can do nothing but stuff envelopes, and keep your supplies. If you don't have the room I wouldn't suggest it. With kids and the way they like to (help) it's almost impossible to do properly. But if you are interested in it, contact print shops in your area, like Minuteman, or the smaller mom and pop type places. the 3 places I worked for didn't make me put down a deposit for the materials, but I was responsible for them, and I had to pick up and drop off the jobs. but I averaged between 80 and 130 a week, stuffing envelopes, small one. When I did the annual report for Monsanto though all 27000 + of them in 10 days I made a killer bonus, my check for that one was almost 500.00 but I did that while on vacation from my regular job and I worked 20 hours a day the entire time, while the missus took the kids over to her parents house. Just something you might want to look into. Oh, and if you do that you are responsible for your own taxes so keep records.