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Credit card debt-free in 2003....
on January 24, 2002
As a young professional who is lucky enough to make more than most people my age, I was perpetually frustrated by my inability to save. When I whine about the vicious work-and-spend way I was living my life, most of my friends would tell me to just shut the hell up because they simply don't understand how someone with my income could have a difficult time "just keeping up."
And then I read "the Overspent American." Now everything is starting to come together. I'm no different than most people in my situation. Apparently, the more you make, the more you spend (because those with money are generally more status-oriented, and "status" requires money...lots and lots of money). Couple this with one's general dissatisfaction in the workplace, and spending goes even higher because people with means buy more things to distract themselves from the general unhappiness that is their life.
'Lest you think this is a "bleeding heart" book that doesn't put the blame squarely on the shoulders of the irresponsible consumer, let me assure you that this book makes no excuses for our society's poor consumer choices. Like any well-documented social science project, this book merely explains the new consumerism, based on Schor's studies and interviews with downshifters and overspent consumers. It passes no judgment, but it does not give irresponsible consumers an easy scapegoat for their problems either.
On the contrary, I felt like this book was a wake-up call. First, it made me feel better simply to know I wasn't the lone idiot who couldn't get my finances together. But second, and more importantly, this book gave me hope. It talks about downshifters and other individuals who have successfully managed to get their consumerism under control. I am now more determined than ever to crawl out of the credit card existence I've been living somewhat uncomfortably in for the past 8 years. Like my one-line summary of the book suggests, I'm now seriously planning (rather than just hopelessly wishing) to be credit card debt-free in 2003!
For anyone who finds themselves living paycheck to paycheck, or struggling just to get by (despite a decent income), this book will shed light on some of the reasons why, and inspire you to make the necessary changes to ensure your long-term financial prosperity and conquer your short-term consumerist impulses. A quick, but powerful, read. Highly, highly recommended.