Carnival of Personal Finance #113
by Jason Dean
Stop Tracking Your Spending: When I see a family with excess cash each month, 9 times out of 10, the problem is theyâ€™re keeping track of what they spend. So turn off that spreadsheet and uninstall Quicken. And while your at it, go ahead and disable the check engine light on your car.
Donâ€™t Talk to Your Spouse About Money: This may seem like odd advice, but Iâ€™ve found that if you donâ€™t communicate with your spouse about money, spending it frivolously becomes a lot easier.
- Seventy-six percent of poor households have air conditioning. By contrast, 30 years ago, only 36 percent of the entire U.S. population enjoyed air conditioning.
- Ninety-seven percent of poor households have a color television; over half own two or more color televisions.
Seventy-eight percent have a VCR or DVD player; 62 percent have cable or satellite TV reception.
- Seventy-three percent own microwave ovens, more than half have a stereo, and a third have an automatic dishwasher.
And what counts as “poor” in the facts cited above?
- Single person: $9,183
- Two person household: $11,756
- Three person household: $14,348
- Four person household: $18,392
Considering that most states let people qualify for WIC with incomes 2-3 times greater than those cited above, those are some pretty strict standards — and yet, poor people in the U.S. still have more living space than average families in much of Europe:
The average poor American has more living space than the average individual living in Paris, London, Vienna, Athens, and other cities throughout Europe.
This doesn’t mean we don’t have a poverty problem in the U.S. — but it does put things into perspective on a global scale.
My final top pick: Is Your Lifestyle Preventing You From Saving? In this article, One Frugal Girl examines her and her husband’s interests and habits, and shows that small changes can lead to big savings. Here’s a sample:
Small changes in your hobbies and passions can also drastically affect your finances. A co-worker of mine spends hundreds of dollars each month creating custom jewelry. Another spends hundreds on scrapbooking materials. They both admit that they started by purchasing only $50 worth of materials, but as their hobbies have grown so have their appetites for better materials.
My husband recently experienced this phenomenon as he began pursuing photography as a second career. His initial camera cost only $500. His latest equipment a camera and two lenses cost thousands of dollars. But life is meant to be enjoyed and life would be rather dull if we didn’t pursue our passions. So I encourage my husband to pursue photography, but, of course, I remind him that he cannot purchase new equipment until we have saved enough money.
Overall, it was another great Carnival, and I’m honored to have participated in it. Thanks, once again, to My Open Wallet for hosting it. I can’t wait for the next one!