We’re not the most adept mathematical wizard. But what we’ve been reading has caused us to pause and to rethink how we spend what little we have.
The basics seem simple. The current administration – you know its name – has apparently decided we should live as we did at the turn of the 20th century: unfettered, rich as Croesus and the hell with the hindmost. What this means is simple: them who has keeps and spends; he who ain’t got, ain’t got, and ain’t likely to get.
The newly approved merger of AT&T and Time-Warner means clouds on the horizon for those of us who ain’t got. It also means that consumer prices for basic services are likely to increase, including credit card rates. It’s likely going to cost us all more to use the little wonders we have grown so used to: televisions, cable, basic wireless communication.
Add to this bit of news the idea that interest rates have increased three times so far this year – number four is on the way – and you have a reinforced sense of your credit card going up a point or two. Mortgage rates, rates for car loans, small business assistance, health insurance. Almost nothing escapes untouched. Certainly nothing is getting less expensive.
The capstone is the decision to open the barn doors to unregulated supervision of the entire Internet (nothing any longer neutral about it).
So how do we survive? Is it possible to evade the rockslide and mud that follow this series of forest fires?
Living in gold and glitter may be very well for some. For most of us, our surroundings turn into pewter and plastic. We have to decide what and whether individual activities are important to us. Are we determined to live as before, paying more than before for the privilege? Or, in order to do that, do we need to make some sacrifices to maintain our extravagances?
We need now to think ahead in order to stay ahead of poverty and bankruptcy, both of which seem approved by the new administration. (And cutting off immigration isn’t going to help us, either.)
O.K., checkbooks and safe-deposit boxes open and out. What could we do without?
Certainly we can cut our cellphone use and expense…most of this already on our credit cards. We can erase the evidence of ”free apps” which are used only to seduce. Amazon may take a severe hit, not just in its millions of items, but particularly in the book business. (Remember libraries? Remember books themselves?)
Ten minute jaunts to a convenience store for items that are overpriced (hence “convenient”) should go the way of the dodo.
Home repairs as a trade should be reinforced because Angie’s List et al aren’t going to get cheaper, either.
Take the 83 % beef instead of the 95% fat free.
Pretend you’re old enough to remember “Victory Gardens.”
Never say “no” to any unexpected second job that’s offered.
Stay off freeways and save on gasoline.
Take short trips rather than intercontinental journeys.
Learn again to sew.
Save spare change at the end of every day and deposit it.
Depending on what a bank offers, grab the “no fee” checking accounts or automatic deposits.
You don’t need a new car every other year.
Give up car services and learn again to walk a few blocks.
Prepay if you can.
Give up food deliveries and learn again to cook.