Great gramma used to wash out used paper towels and hang them to dry in the kitchen. She could afford paper towels but living through the Depression taught her to conserve. She could afford glasses and cups too, but preferred to use old jelly jars instead. My ultra-conservative paternal grampa used to diligently save his empty Coke bottles and return them to the store--not just for the deposit refund, but because he was an actual 'conserve'-ative, unlike today's breed of "buy whatever you want and throw everything away because you can" chuckleheads. Grampa was a butcher and he used all the bits of dead animals for something. I remember he used to bring home brown paper wrappers full of eyes and brains and whatnot. When I asked him why he had eyes he said the local high school wanted them.
I have to wonder now what's coming down the pike financially. Are we at last going to atone for our sins during the last few decades of "irrational exuberance"? Is this another brief blip like we had in the early '80s or '90s? WTF?
Watching the decline in the markets is at once exhilarating and terrifying. I have a few 401Ks and 403bs from old jobs, but there's never been much there, and there's even less now. Market fluctuations don't particularly concern me. If we get to the point where public schools shut down, then I'll be worried of course, but I don't have a lot of money tied up in Wall Street voodoo; and if we're at the point where public schools are shuttered it'll be roving gangs of maurauders looting anyhow and I'll be defending my house with hot pitch. I'm more of a ten-year Savings Bond, ING CD kind of guy than a Wall Street player. I have some gold, and a lot of silver coins stashed away, and some rice and beans. But mostly I spend as I go, like most Americans. The money I should have saved over the years has funded books, music, and travel. I'd do nothing differently if I had to do it over.
One concern is unusually elevated credit card debt. Last year while I was a half-time teacher and full-time grad student I used the plastic more and then over the summer it crept up too and then I was buying school supplies on credit. Got to get that shit paid off so Joe Biden's friends in Newark stay off my back.
I worry about my kids a lot. Their lives are already pretty marginal--a huge dip in the economy could topple many beyond their current despair and into the unthinkable.