It is the catch-22 of the American consumer. During the good times, we save too little. During the bad times, we save too much. The economy is booming so we all buy new cars and houses on borrowed money that we can’t really afford, making the economic boom impossible to sustain. The recession hits and we hold onto our money for dear life, prolonging the recession and making it even worse. Where is the sanity amongst all of this extreme behavior?
Usually, when no one around me is spending money, I tend to become too consumed with guilt to use any of my own hard-earned cash, even when I can afford to. But should I feel more guilty in spending or in saving? Is spending admirable and saving selfish? Perhaps, if your ultimate concern is the economy. Or is spending stupid and saving safe? Maybe, if your ultimate concern is your self. But no one lives in a bubble.
The answer, for me at least, is to search for that balance. I want to save money, but not horde money. I want to take vacations and take care of myself, but with out spending lavishly. Unfortunately, achieving balance is easier said than done. Or else we wouldn’t be in this mess to begin with.
So, I will continue to advocate to myself and those around me that in spite of the recession (or maybe because of it), don’t be overly paranoid of spending the money that you can afford to spend. Remember that hording money is contributing to our failing economy and spending money is stimulating the economy. And if you still feel guilty every time you hand over the credit card, just remember that you are doing a public service 😉