Make a Thousand Post Two: Foreword: Be your own slave
I have a house slave named Grumio. He lives in my head. Grumio gets jobs I don’t want. Clean under the stove, shovel snow off the roof, paint the house. ‘Handle it, Grumio.’ And he does. He’s honest, hardworking, generous to a fault, reasonably intelligent, socially inept, and a fiscal basket case.
For years I watched him try to make money. He bought get-rich books, went to seminars, tried investing, tried business ventures… He even wrote novels. Financially, he was like the fat guy who tries every diet and gains weight on them all. He was like the 97-pound weakling buying karate books and protein shakes.
Grumio was always getting my household into money trouble. He overspent. He bought stuff we didn’t need. He carried credit card debt for years paying thousands in interest over those years. That financial dependence, the thing that made him a reliable slave, also made him a liability. I tried to beat it out of him, but next day he’d go right out and do what didn’t work the day before. In desperation I set him up a home bank account which got him looking at money-real money-his own money, and it worked.
I thought Grumio was an odd case but it turns out 64% of American households couldn’t come up with $1,000 to pay for an emergency and nearly half couldn’t come up with $2,000 in 30 days. If a walking insolvency like Grumio can hold more in his hand than half the households in the country, you can do it too.
* Note on cost totals for the book: American consumer spending is in the trillions of dollars. Trying to makes sense of such big numbers invites criticism. Good. Fire away. Thinking critically about spending, and acting on it, is the whole point. Some categories in the book, like Christmas spending and what we spend on electronics, overlap. Balancing that, categories we overspend on are not exhaustive. For example, I didn’t include weddings, jewelry, new furniture, a lot of engine categories, or most health care. No doubt, you can come up with more categories I didn’t count. As you do, think about not spending money on them until you’ve got $1,000 in your hand.
Each category is followed by what Americans were spending on it in 2011. As I said in Post One, it’s worse now. With categories where reliable total estimates weren’t available I didn’t include an estimate. Environmental impacts follow spending estimates for some categories because saving money translates directly to a healthier planet. Information sources are listed in the End Notes.