Ok, the purpose of this blog is to share my insights on living well on a very small budget. A big part of that is style, and this morning everything I hold true about classic beauty was assaulted on the campus of the University of South Carolina. During carpool this morning as I headed to work past the Russell House (the student center for the school), in the span of just 3 blocks my inner fashionista nearly died. I could hear her screaming "OMG I NEED A SPRITZ OF FENDI PERFUME STAT!!! PLEASE!!! WRAP ME IN A BLACK PENCIL SKIRT AND A PASHMINA BEFORE I DIE!" Thankfully I have a purse atomizer of CoCo Channel so I was able bring her back from the brink. Everywhere I looked I saw *cue the music* {dum dum DA} Ugg boots. While at first blush I find these boots glorified house slippers which shouldn't be worn past the porch, seeing so many fresh faced young women in these shoes filled my mind with two big questions on the way to my office. How? and Why?

First is "how?" Not being an owner of these shoes, I will admit that I had to google their going price. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but WOW!!!! They are anywhere from $150.00 to $200.00! Where is the money coming from that these young women women can afford such a luxury? In a time in American history where cash strapped parents are working nights and weekends to support their college bound children and state and private universities whose stock-laden endowments have fallen so sharply that they are laying off staff and cutting back academic programs, I have gone from fashion opposed to fiscally shocked! I in no way begrudge these women their earthly delights. Quite the opposite in fact. I am a huge advocate of living well, but I find the juxtaposition of these shoes on a campus where there is a hiring freeze and where non-tenured and adjunct staff are being let go in droves very surprising. Moreover, I think these types of expenditures present us with a much larger issue - wants in the short term and needs in the long term.

The global economic crisis, at least on a micro-economic scale, is due in part to the shortsightedness the the average consumer. Now don't get your feathers too ruffled. I am well aware of the responsibility that business and the banking industry bears in this clusterf*%k, but this blog isn't for Bank of America, its for individual consumers. I think this is particularly true in America. We live in a culture where we are one browser click, one credit card swipe, and one fast food drive through away from getting what we want exactly when we want it. This is the "why". We are now realizing, in a most painful of ways, that this type of consumption is not sustainable. The average credit card indebted young adult household in America now spends nearly 24 percent of its income on debt payments!! (Source: "Generation Broke: Growth of Debt Among Young Americans") Now add to this, that today's average consumer has 13 credit obligations on record at a credit bureau, including credit cards and installment loans (auto, mortgage, and student loans, etc.), 9 of which are likely to be credit cards, we are spending ourselves to death on things that we really can't afford. Up until recently we've coasted, but now, people are having to pay the piper. My hope is that with this downturn in the economy that we as a people will do two critically important things. First, we will be come better educated about our finances. The time of avoiding the mailbox and screening phone calls for debt collectors is over. Second, I hope that people will become more disciplined in how we consume. We need to learn what we need versus what we want and what we can afford versus what we can't. If we can do this, Americans can rescue themselves from the economic crisis.

Now, after all of the hatin' on the Ugg wearers and gloom and doom economy talk, I want to end this post on a positive note. So why not see what that $200.00 Ugg purchase price could do for us if we spent the money in another way. Let's say you took that $200.00 and deposited it into an account paying 3% interest (a CD for example), and continued to contribute just $200.00 each year, in 10 years you would have saved $2,605.13. Translate that into monthly terms, and you are only having to save about $16 bucks a month. While I'm sure Uggs are very comfortable, which is what I hear motivates people to wear them, I think I would feel much more comfortable knowing that I had a nice little nest egg to fall back on in case there is an economic down turn when I'm in my thirties.


Anonymous said...

A nice nest egg is comfortable and not Ugg-ly! Great blog B! Funny and with enough of an actual point to it to be useful without being boring.

Amie Barr, M.A. said...

You're a natural! It is so much of you in it I hear your voice...can I have your autograph?