Saturday, February 14

Romance, spending & the economic crisis: Some Vday-induced thoughts

Blah, blah, "love"

Blah, blah, "cherish"

Blah, blah, "chocolate"

Hey, wait! Chocolate? Now you've got my attention!

Actually, last night, I talked myself out of buying some chocolate because it seemed ridiculous to pay $3 a bag now when, in two days, I could get it at least 50% off.

So while I bide my time waiting for chocolate prices to plunge -- if only the stock market's prices were as reliable as grocery stock prices -- here are a few things to consider:

To quote my blogging buddy Brunette on a Budget,

"According to the Washington Post, the National Retail Federation's spending survey found that Americans plan to put up a total of $15 billion in the name of Cupid this year, or $103 per person. Granted, that's $20 less than last year, but it's still a far cry from macaroni-necklace territory, the paper says."

To me, this is once again proof that either Americans are even more short-sighted than we have ever given them credit for, or the average American is still doing a lot better than most media would have us believe.

Yes, it's much lower than retailers were hoping for. We were in a boom, now we're moving toward the "bust" end of the cycle. Businesses are experiencing the pain of financial contraction. In good times, businesses expand and hire a lot of people. In bad times, they have to pare back down to essentials. That means layoffs.

I'm not trying to be crass or flippant. Of course these layoffs have huge ripple effects across the economy. Of course people's lives are changed by this, rarely in a good way.

But I've always thought of economics as a cycle. As the old adage, "What goes up must come down." In terms of the human existence, the effect is far more nuanced and important. But the simple fact that something has tragic consequences rarely keeps it from happening.

And given all this potential tragedy, all this nervousness about job security and our shared economic future, what does it say about us that we are still willing to fork out $15 billion for a single day? (I try not to think about the total for more popular holidays like Christmas and Hannukah.)

Well, it either says either:

  • We are the kind of patriotic saps -- er, Americans -- that are spending to keep the economy afloat, just as our politicians, economists and investment bloggers vehemently implore us to do
  • For all our new-found frugality and housing-bubble-induced wisdom, we're still mainly a myopic, instant-gratification oriented group of people who will never truly learn to put our future security above a nice dinner and some overpriced flowers.

Honestly, I'm not sure which interpretation is worse.

And on that cheery thought I am off to eat some breakfast and prepare for our unValentine's Day. The boys have decided to see Friday the 13th. (My mom replied that gory movies aptly mirror a lot of romance: Someone delights in ripping someone else's heart out. I guess you see where I get my romantic sensibilities from.) After that, it's some greasy fast food and then home to have a few drinks and probably watch Christopher Titus's special "Love is Evil" along, perhaps, with some cheesy movies that we can heckle.

FYI, before you chide me for spending after that tirade, the movie will be seen with free passes thanks to Mom's MyCokeRewards account. The fast food will be out of pocket, but, hey, it's a holiday, folks!

And what better way to spend a holiday than at the carnival(s)? So here are a few blog carnivals that have been good enough to include me in their ranks. Read up while you wait for your discounted chocolate!

The Carnival of Investing Strategies

The Carnival of Debt Reduction

The Festival of Frugality

The Personal Finance News Blog Carnival

The Carnival of Everything Money

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Blogger Fabulously Broke said...

Chocolate? :)

Actually, I think a lot of it is fear mongering.

I think it'll all adjust itself by the end of 2009, mid-2010. *shrug*

It won't be like it was before, but it'll balance out and I am not worried whatsoever.

February 14, 2009 at 5:47 PM

Blogger Shtinkykat said...

Unfortunately, I think that we're part of the instant gratification culture. I also think that it's en vogue to be frugal right now, but most people will revert back to their old ways in the next 6-12 months. I have to confess, I feel myself sliding already. Need to slap some sense into myself!

February 15, 2009 at 9:18 PM

Blogger Abby said...

Well, I think part of it is also the various stages of frugal burnout. So this may be something that waxes and wanes. Or maybe I just need to believe that they at least have good intentions -- if bad follow-through.

Either way, I got my clearance-priced chocolate, so I suppose some good came out of it!

February 15, 2009 at 10:07 PM


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