04 July 2010

Frugality again

I don't just read about murder and mayhem. I just finished The New Frugality by Chris Farrell. If his name sounds familiar, it's probably because you listen to public radio on Saturday morning. He's the guy who seems to answer listeners' questions off the top of his head on American Public Media's Marketplace Money. In fact, most of his answers probably require him to look some things up. He's thorough.

The book is a primer of personal finance in the post-recession, post-auto industry collapse, post-investment banks collapse world. The book is probably aimed at people younger than I. I heard naive versions of most of this advice from my parents. Mom and Dad never took a class or studied economics. But they learned a fair bit by living through the Great Depression, a World War, the expectations of another depression, the boom of the '50s and '60s, and the inflation of the '70s. The lessons they taught were limited by their own experiences, but were very similar to the ones touted by Chris Farrell in this book: don't take risks you can't afford to lose; don't get hooked on owning things; keep a safety net beneath your everyday living; don't get involved in things too complicated to understand; and don't start things you probably can't finish.

Of course these were rules broken with glee in the '90s by enough people to get all of us in trouble. That's why the book's called The New Frugality. (He does make a distinction between being cheap and being frugal, something I didn't learn from my parents.) The book's about living, earning, spending, saving, planning, getting an education, retiring, and giving. He advocates all those things within financial reason.

I thought about giving copies of this book to my children, but I think only the youngest needs it. On the other hand, maybe I'm overestimating the financial sophistication of the older ones. They all seem to be demostrating a reasonable frugality in their lives, but we've never really talked about it.

Hey, kids, Christmas is coming.

Have you read The New Frugality? Write and tell this little bit of the world what you think of it.

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