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//Rain, rain, go away…

Rain, rain, go away…

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I was struck during a recent government shutdown by how few of the affected families appeared to have a rainy-day or emergency fund. I couldn’t help but ask myself: Wouldn’t the instinctual impulse toward self-preservation we all share tend to prevent the average family from spending to the limit of their means? If these families were indeed living “paycheck to paycheck,” as they claimed, wouldn’t they be inclined to spend a certain amount less than their means limit, over a specific time-period, such as to accumulate sufficient funds to cover an income hiatus of at least three months (as our elders counsel us to do)? Or would such a scheme in the modern world simply prove to be too onerous for the average family, which must meet an array of monthly obligations (mortgage payments, SUV payments, Christmas-gift payments, cable payments, smartphone payments, credit-card payments, HELOC payments, etc.) in order to keep all their modern-day conveniences and necessities fully in their possession?

Even if this were the case, though, aren’t we all endowed with an innate hording impulse that, when circumstances warrant, more or less compels us toward a prudent (if excessive) stockpiling of certain things? Perhaps we don’t see manifestations of this impulse all that often, because of it requiring a trigger (threat) of some kind, as in the case of the Great Depression, wherein hunger served as a ubiquitous trigger. Nonetheless, this impulse, even if largely latent, is still part of nature’s strategy toward our preserving ourselves, is it not?

Perhaps the real problem here is that we all tend these days to be ensconced in our own little bubble, our own little patch of La La Land, wherein nothing of lasting harm can happen to us, because there will always be someone, or some thing – Captain America perhaps, or a guardian angel – who will appear in our darkest hour and make everything all right.

2019-01-23T16:09:22+00:00January 23rd, 2019|Uncategorized|4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Barry Cook January 24, 2019 at 1:28 pm - Reply

    Middle class spending behavior (v saving) in the US has been engineered to extract maximum consumption. Here are some of the contributing factors:
    1) The government (until 2017) supported policies to provide a safety net for people: unemployment insurance, food stamps, disaster relief.
    2) The government provides a role model for living beyond its means. Deficit and skyrocketing national debt have replaced the notion of a balanced budget – with no consequences (until THE BIG ONE when that bubble will burst).
    3) The banking system gives easy credit for multiple credit cards, car and home loans to people who have no assets, and doesn’t offer vehicles for savings with yields above inflation or investments with prudent risk. Bank profits are healthy, though.
    4) Marketing science in the social networked digital age has made social comparison and acquistiveness into defining our identity and risking instant public shaming
    5) Online shopping has reduced delay of gratification to the reaction time between seeing something and clicking on “Buy.”

    And now for your weather forecast …
    A very rainy day is coming our way.

    I’m going to get ahead of the curve and set up a Go Fund Me page …

  2. Matt Fitzgerald January 23, 2019 at 4:19 pm - Reply

    Saving habits are culturally influenced to a significant degree. In some societies (China, for example) people tend to save a lot. The U.S. ranks around the top of the bottom third globally in average household savings rate.

    • TomF January 23, 2019 at 7:38 pm - Reply

      The Grasshopper &the Ants. One of my favorite tales.

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