I'm about to divorce a blog No! Not this one! I swear I'm just absent and my heart grows fonder!
I read many blogs through an RSS reader. It's actually a pretty magnificent thing. You find people you like to read, and with a little click they are saved in a pretty little collection so you can leaf through their sites like magazines whenever you like. Hopefully I'm in your RSS collection.
A couple of years ago, a friend suggested I read a website devoted to thriftiness. There's lots of info on internet deals and coupons so I quickly added it to my RSS feed. After some time I noticed that the author had a pretty intense religious fervor brewing but I was not wholly deterred.
As the economy worsened, I visited my Thrifty Links collection more frequently. I found plenty of deals on photo products and groceries and coupons towards clothing and housewares. This one site began welcoming guest bloggers who told stories, much like the site owner did, of saving up and buying things with cash. As someone with more than my fair share of experience with credit card companies, it was -- for a time -- refreshing to hear of people bucking the system and prioritizing what mattered.
And then the economy continued to worsen. And I began to wonder when anyone could do anything frivolous ever again. But the kernel of frustration was just barely there.
And then there was the four-wheeler story. The &*@(&# &*(&# flibberty-gibberty I don't even know how to say how I felt about that story. It is a few months back so I will attempt to recall the details. Another guest blogger (by this point realize that guest bloggers are a way to keep your site current while you take a break but continue to make money...) had posted a "We paid cash" story. Only this one I found repugnant, irresponsible, and certainly not something that should be extolled in the virtuous "we prioritized to accomplish our dream" themed posts.
It was about an obviously financially-challenged family that had decided to buy an ATV for their seven-year old. My relatively new Mom-senses tingled. A what? For a how-old? Are you NUTS?!?! I understand that riding ATV's is a pretty popular rural activity. I even did it when I was a kid, but I am sure my age ended in "-teen". ALL of the comments on the site applauded the woman for her thriftiness. None raised the issue of safety, or the merits of the purchase, or of buying this thing before dealing with other needs. To me it seemed like a thought process made out of deep poverty - and not just the financial kind. I quashed my disgust and posted a thoughtful comment with the most gentle suggestion about safety.
And it was promptly deleted. And then I learned that other comments had been deleted as well. And then comments were locked down. But the post stayed. It's still there now. I added "Blog about ATV's" and "Find out about youth ATV safety programs" to my personal and work To Do lists. Time passed.
I started reading the blog less often. It was starting to get depressing. There were DIY solutions that were so time-consuming that the tradeoff with a ready-made solution was not worth it. (And these were not for superior outcomes like an eco-friendly cleaner.) The "we saved up" columns continued to be hit or miss. Great, someone saved up for a van to transport their family or the down payment on a house! But in-between there were stories of hardship and deprivation.
But tonight, a straw has broken this camel's back. A post about ways to make money and get rewards with your smart phone included a comment that broke my heart. The recommended strategies for cashing in on a smart phone included things like taking pictures of store displays and going on retail scavenger hunts and scanning bar codes for points or cash. Um, okay, I guess I'm okay with that. It's your time and if you find its value to be equal to 10 cents for 5-10 minutes I'm not going to shame you for that. And then there was that comment...
Her husband has a smart phone with a data plan which is justified by his business need. She's wondering if she could make enough cash each month to offset the cost of a data plan for her. She says they start at $15.
I just. I mean. I. WTF.
She explains that she "just wants" a smart phone. I click through from her comment to her website. She appears to have some sort of photography practice or business. She might be making money from it and/or her blog. (Discarding the obvious, that that's a reason right there to have a smart phone if you want one.)
I was taken aback. Is it 1950? Can a couple really say she needs to justify the expense and offset it while her husband is enjoying not only the "must have for business" aspect of this (admitted luxury) item, but also reaping its benefits in the not-so-work environment?
I have some bright, talented, educated friends who have taken a hot minute off to be a SAHM and I have even heard them start to wonder what they "deserve" and what they can "justify". I have even heard them refer to their husbands' salaries as "his". I just. I mean. WTF.
... An aside to give you a break from my hysterics but also to say that I am not referring to situations where luxuries are chosen in place of necessities. I respect cutting back on "wants" to provide for "needs" and more important "wants" great and small. ...
At the same time, these years of thrift, of want taking a big backseat to need came crashing down on me. I don't want to read stories of people who saved up for three years to buy some piece of shit van to replace a shittier van. I'm not saying I want them to finance a gold-plated Hummer they can't afford, but that there surely must be some middle ground where people can accomplish their goals without it being their life's work to get a cell phone.
So, at last I will unsubscribe from this terribly uplifting blog full of woefully inspiring tales of people who did without to make do. There. That wasn't so hard.