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"What are you saving for?" redux
Old 04-25-2005, 04:15 PM   #1
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"What are you saving for?" redux

Dr. Phil reminded me of Cut-Throat's "What are you saving for?" comment.

I'm impressed by Dr. Phil's way of getting people to confront their behavior (and by the way he reduces them to tears within 90 seconds). He manages to play that "Golly gee shucks, I'm just a bald-headed good ol' ball-playin' country boy" act while distracting all of us from the gazillion-dollar marketing machine that he & Oprah have created. I may not agree with everything he says but I admire his chutzpah.

One of his recurring themes is the "extreme behavior" of "guests" who've been turned in by their families with an appeal to "Help them before we kill them!" Usually he helps people who can't (or won't) help themselves, but this time he behaved as though he'd stumbled across an alien from another universe.

The woman had been turned in for "extreme frugality" by two of her five kids. The adult daughters, clearly not appreciating their potential inheritance, felt that their mother's frugality had crossed the line into self-denial & child abuse. Keep in mind that the woman has a good-paying job and has raised her five kids by herself. Yet to reward her self-sacrifice, the kids cited examples like rinsing & re-using plastic bags, a toilet paper five-square limit per application, and stopping the minivan by the side of the road to pick up cans & bottles. Her worst crime-- one year the neighborhood Hallowe'en kids toilet-papered the house so the mother rolled it all back onto a cardboard tube and made the family use it. All these heinous behaviors were documented on video flashbacks while the somewhat bemused accused sat in her chair onstage and smiled nervously. (I'd love to know what she said to her daughters during commercial breaks...)

Dr. Phil had no idea what to do with this "problem". IMO he would have been much more at ease with a psychotic serial killer whose motivations at least could be analyzed. But he couldn't understand why she would be frugal if she had a job, wasn't in debt, and wasn't donating it all to her favorite charity. He finally gave up and asked her "What are you saving it for?"

The question stopped her cold. Here he was focusing on a goal, and she was just living a life that-- by her standards-- was quite successful. It wasn't about goals, it was about the process. She had developed a whole repertoire of tricks that had enabled her to single-handedly raise, educate, & launch five kids-- but because she was no longer saving for an immediate goal then her lifelong behavior patterns were somehow deemed inappropriate. Her best riposte was "Well, I might need the money someday" but she withered upon further cross-examination. At least she didn't break down in tears like 95% of the other guests.

I suspect that during another commercial break she negotiated her release by agreeing to vacate the five-square rule. And then she probably went home and wrote her kids out of her will! Dr. Phil wished her well with an entire pallet of toilet paper (Charmin Quilted, the really expensive stuff) so the experience wasn't a total loss.

I can appreciate her logic. We spent over two decades getting to ER and there's no sense in vacating behavior that's not deprivation. It makes you feel good to be easier on the environment and you never know what resources you'll need to cope with some day. I've learned not to sweat any one-time purchases under $10 and occasionally I even fling a couple twenties at a charitable cause. But I still pick pennies up off the sidewalk and I still re-use plastic bags. (No, I just re-use them once. I don't have a good drying rack for rinsing them out.) At least I can claim that I'm passing my good habits on to my kid-- or at least the neighborhood kids.

FWIW, Cut-Throat, her habits were frugal but not that extreme. She wouldn't even have made Amy Dacyczyn's team.
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Re: "What are you saving for?" redux
Old 04-25-2005, 04:45 PM   #2
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Re: "What are you saving for?" redux

I think Unclemick married the wrong woman.

I'll echo Cut Throat's comment about getting used to the "finer things in life"; I think I could live a nomadic/bumlike existence, but I like my money and spending it. I actually considered being a ski bum once after meeting a man in Colorado who worked as ski patrol during the winter, raft guide in the summer and odd jobs in between. But my career was already budding, my golden handcuffs were thin but forged and I had a taste for spending money.
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Re: "What are you saving for?" redux
Old 04-25-2005, 05:44 PM   #3
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Re: "What are you saving for?" redux

I don't watch TV because I took down my antenna to re-roof and I never got it back up. But I know Dr Phil from his smiling visage appearing on magazine covers at the supermarket. Don't much like him or Oprah.

My take on the woman in the dock is that she should send her ungrateful brats a bill for their nurture. Maybe a few of the things she did were over the top, but who is to say what it takes to make some behavioral pattern endure? It can't have been easy to raise 5 children alone. And in America at least, money tends to*flow one way, from parent to child. Are her offspring-critics eager to step in and support Mom if she should run short in her old age? Maybe, but probably not a safe bet.

No one can do extraordinary things by ordinary means. NFL players do weird things like throw women off balconies. It's a side effect of the same testosterone that makes them NFL players.(And maybe some additional help from exogenous steroids.) But that stuff is criminal and immoral. What this woman did is close to if not heroic.

More power to her, and to hell with her daughters.

BTW- can anyone name the most noticeable change in a man's life after his woman departs?

He buys fewer paper products. *

Mikey
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Re: "What are you saving for?" redux
Old 04-25-2005, 09:40 PM   #4
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Re: "What are you saving for?" redux

At least she didn't re-use the toilet paper!

They should leave that poor woman alone, she is a hero, but had they gone a different route it would have been a worthwhile show. My grandparents were SUPER-Frugal, but loved to travel, so they had something they were saving for. When my grandfather had a stroke and after several years, died, my grandmother was still arguing with the phone company over a ten cent charge, and not doing anything for herself, despite the fact that between g-pa's investments and life insurance, she had a paid off house and a seven figure portfolio. I practically scolded her that grandpa loved her enough to make sure she was set, that she needed to start travelling again, and that I would be disapointed if she had any money left for me to inherit. She took it to heart, and has been to Morroco, Thailand, Iceland and other spots since then, and is much happier for it. There has to be a balance, the trick is finding it.
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Re: "What are you saving for?" redux
Old 04-26-2005, 01:33 PM   #5
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Re: "What are you saving for?" redux

Nords,

Whatever happened to respect for your elders/parents? For her children to "expose" her to that was rotten in my estimation - and for Phil to mock her was even worse. If her children were true mature adults they would learn that that is the way she is, it helped her get where shea dn *they* needed to go/be and to let her alone.

What also bothers me about that show is that it reinforced the idea that frugality is weird and that one should be spending more...I don't agree with that philosophy but obviously I am swimming upstream with sharks on my tail with that idea. Of course that show also reinforces the idea that we all need to have some type of 'glory' - with being on TV the end all be all. Shows like Survivor, Fear Factor, etc, just feed that notion as well. Whenever I watch (rarely) shows like that (especially the Judge XXX shows), I think to myself I sure wouldn't want the world to watch how stupid/ignorant/much of an a$$ they are showing themselves to be.

Your post was just another eason why I don't have cable and refuse to watch those kinds of shows - garbage in - garbage out is so true here.

Bridget
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Re: "What are you saving for?" redux
Old 04-26-2005, 07:41 PM   #6
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Re: "What are you saving for?" redux

Quote:


What also bothers me about that show is that it reinforced the idea that frugality is weird and that one should be spending more...I don't agree with that philosophy but obviously I am swimming upstream with sharks on my tail with that idea.
Well then, I'm swimming alongside you. This was discussed over on the frugal living board, and they didn't think she was all that odd (tho some folks drew the line at the TP)
I didn't see the show, but too bad she didn't give Dr. Phil and her bratty children a piece of her mind!
(BTW, what's wrong with washing out plastic bags? At least it keeps the stuff out of the landfill for a while)
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Re: "What are you saving for?" redux
Old 04-26-2005, 08:49 PM   #7
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Re: "What are you saving for?" redux

Shoot if your careful with what you put in the bag all you have to do is shake it out. I've been known to use them for months.
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Re: "What are you saving for?" redux
Old 04-26-2005, 08:52 PM   #8
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Re: "What are you saving for?" redux

Quote:
. . . I'm impressed by Dr. Phil's way of getting people to confront their behavior . . .but I admire his chutzpah.

. . .
Nords,

I was really hoping there was a joke hiding in the paragraphs that followed. What a disapointment? Tell me you don't really admire him. Not Dr. Phil. :) :) :)
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Re: "What are you saving for?" redux
Old 04-27-2005, 05:40 AM   #9
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Re: "What are you saving for?" redux

Admire Dr Phil - ?why not? He seems to be successful. Didn't he start out as an engineer or something and switch to pysch late in life?

Confronting bad behavior - I'm thinking of recapturing my youth and taking some time to wander through junkyards and daydream. I have this 'free' 1992 Geo Storm sitting in the yard. A brief search of the net - certain Isuzu engines are a drop in and with turbocharging you can get the 33 mpg down to a peppy 25 mpg.

Heck I may brake down and throw that 50k in petty cash into Wellelsey instead of something less enjoyable like travel, new vehicle, or health insurance.

P.S. I thought junkyards were a youth thing of teenage hot rod (poor mans) fascination. But I worked with a NASA engineer back in the seventies who did the same thing. His wife put the ka-bosch on having 5-6 cars in work at the same time. Later he ended up fixing and flipping houses and refinishing antique furniture.

I plan to stay away from Dr Phil.
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Re: "What are you saving for?" redux
Old 04-27-2005, 07:52 AM   #10
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Re: "What are you saving for?" redux

I would agree with those of you that mentioned you need to save for 'something' in life or there has to be purpose behind saving.
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Re: "What are you saving for?" redux
Old 04-27-2005, 11:18 AM   #11
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Re: "What are you saving for?" redux

I remember a comedian once said he was reading the obit's and read where a guy died pennyless. Some people thought that was sad. He felt it was great retirement planning.

As I don't know how long I'll have bills to pay I figure I need to save a little extra just to ensure I don't run out a little to soon.
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Re: "What are you saving for?" redux
Old 04-27-2005, 01:38 PM   #12
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Re: "What are you saving for?" redux

I do wash out plastic bags....many times - I don't re-use dryer lint.

I do have purpose to my saving -and it isn't necessarily material in nature - I call it 'security' or "I have options" money. I've noticed that since I have a cushion, I don't feel so attached to my current job - I also find that by being emotionally detached from *having to work to meet my current bills* I make better decisions and do a better job at work. It also frees my mind emotionally from the politics at work. Even if I don't retire early, I still will have the opportunity to go look for and wait for much better career/job/occupation opportunities - decisions can be made rationally and not desperately.

So the saving is for my peace of mind, foremost, and retiring early hopefully.

Bridget
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Re: "What are you saving for?" redux
Old 04-27-2005, 08:13 PM   #13
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Re: "What are you saving for?" redux

If the choice is various excercises in frugality (within reason) and personal spending control versus doing the nonsense that was required by some stranger to my life and family to work in a corporation, I will gladly recycle plastic bags and re-use the occaisional dryer sheet.
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Re: "What are you saving for?" redux
Old 04-27-2005, 08:51 PM   #14
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Re: "What are you saving for?" redux

I think the truth on this one lies somewhere in the middle, and also depends on your circumstances. * For instance, i'm worth about 30/hr at work, so i'm not likely going to spend 10-15 minutes washing and trying to keep up with a bunch of plastic lunch bags. * If a box of them cost $1.50, but it takes me 30 minutes to wash the equilivant of the whole box.... then do the math, I paid myself at a rate of 2 dollars/hour to do that (minus taxes gets me to .75cents). * *(sarcasm) *I think, instead, i'll just work the extra 4 minutes at my job and get the 1.50 that way.

I'm shooting for relatively comfortable and normal living, but done so with a frugal mentality. *I also focus on the bigger things instead, such as driving my car 10-15 years instead of a new one every 4-5 years. *Now we're talking some savings!



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Re: "What are you saving for?" redux
Old 04-27-2005, 09:16 PM   #15
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Re: "What are you saving for?" redux

Agreed. I won't be washing bags any time soon. But I carpool with a coworker. Now that is savings! Watch the recurring/monthly bills, research the big ticket items, understand what is really costing you money. Then have fun. There is too much living to do to make time for washing zip lock bags!
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Re: "What are you saving for?" redux
Old 04-28-2005, 04:08 AM   #16
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Re: "What are you saving for?" redux

My DW has some odd habits (me too) .
She will try to wash out and reuse just about every container that enters the house, including plastic bags. She also will load up
on just about any kind of food product as long as it is
on clearance or marked way down. For example,
she bought about 10 packages of Dr. Phil's diet drinks because she
knows I like Slim-fast and they were practically giving
the stuff away. There was a reason for this. It tasted
like year old camel dung, or what I assume that would taste like. I can eat about anything (billygoat) but I drew the line at that crap. Anyway, the dogs get her failures usually so they don't go to waste. She is an
aggressive bargain hunter, but kind of a compulsive buyer. I opined this was because she had little or nothing as a child. She agreed. Her sister is just the same. OTOH, she uses her credit card with reckless
abandon and goes through tons of dryer sheets. I find them floating in the air and getting stuck in the lawnmower. Go figure! I dare not mention these
foibles. Martha says "Speak to the Queen and the Queen will answer!" I agree and that is precisely why I keep my mouth shut.

JG
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Re: "What are you saving for?" redux
Old 04-28-2005, 04:15 AM   #17
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Re: "What are you saving for?" redux

Frugality is a lifestyle and a process as noted.

"What are you saving for?" We are saving for saving's sake. Probably a parallel in the old (cleaned up) joke.

Young bull sez to the old bull, "Lets run down the hill and get us a cow. Old bull says, "Lets walk down and get 'em all".
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Re: "What are you saving for?" redux
Old 04-28-2005, 04:26 AM   #18
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Re: "What are you saving for?" redux

Yesterday I sold one of our 3 vehicles (took me 2 months
to get that done). Got a gazillion places I could put that money, but when I looked at my "priority list"
the answer was obvious. There was only one big non-negotiable "must have" and that was a big boat. We have a boat
for here but it is not suitable for our Texas digs and I
am not going without a fairly large craft. I have scaled
way back from my initial plans but will be buying in
the fall, even if I have to borrow a little bit (I can hear
the gasps. I said the "B" word) Anyway,
I gotta have it and by that time I will be less than a year from SS. Whoo Hoo!

JG
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Re: "What are you saving for?" redux
Old 04-28-2005, 06:21 AM   #19
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Re: "What are you saving for?" redux

My DH does the kitchen work. Like JG's wife, he saves and reuses every container that comes into the house. He washes and reuses all ziplock bags. He reuses most other plastic bags but doesn't go so far as washing them anymore. Bread bags get shaken out and reused. If the bag is borderline, it becomes a dog poop bag. He has even been know to reuse aluminum foil. Grocery bags become garbage bags. We haven't bought any kind of bags for years.

No dryer sheets ever in our house. Too many allergies. Just don't dry bone dry.
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Re: "What are you saving for?" redux
Old 04-28-2005, 06:50 AM   #20
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Re: "What are you saving for?" redux

Another good example i thought of: *Oil changes. * I can get precision auto to do it for 14.90 (with coupon). *that includes 4 quarts of oil and the filter. * *It just wouldnt pay (from a time perspective) for me to do it myself unless i'm willing to take a virtual pay cut from 30/hr to minimum wage. * I'd rather read a chapter in a book i like in the lobby and let them do it for ~ 7 dollars. *(taking out the oil and filter).

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