Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Your Own Personal Economic Infrastructure

Your Own Personal Economic Infrastructure

Instead of the mountain of books out there that attempt to assist people in improving their net worth and getting out of debt, I think we should concentrate on books that have a slightly different focus.  Improving your personal finances is a complex process that deserves a whole lot more thought than simplistic maxims like Pay yourself first.

One book that captures the challenges faced by people living with greatly reduced incomes is Pat Capponi’s Dispatches From the Poverty Line.  Capponi gives us some insight into a life that has been robbed of any infrastructure that can help lift a person out of poverty.  It’s full of rented rooms with no access to refrigeration, so meals have to be purchased ready to eat.  There’s no TV or cable, so entertainment becomes something you go out for.

It’s that infrastructure that’s so very important when someone is trying to economize:

The vegetable garden where the sun and some water can provide you with the                                                                means to supplement your groceries with healthy produce

The workshop where you can repair broken appliances, furniture and fixtures

The chest freezer that allows you to buy large quantities of items on sale and have them available whenever you need them

The car that takes you to the big box store to take advantage of bulk discount

The ensuite washer and dryer that saves you countless time consuming trips to the laundromat

The big screen TV that provides a wealth of inexpensive entertainment at home

And sadly, these are things that so many people take for granted, but when they’re gone we notice the impact on our pocketbook immediately.  Many of the items in the above list are associated with home ownership, and yet we don’t often hear about them as concrete economic benefits. 

I know that people generally associate frugality with fewer possessions, and I tend to agree with that – except when those possessions allow you to save money.  Then they become part of your own personal economic infrastructure. 

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