We could all use a ‘financial’ diet

Published 11:48 pm Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Not too long ago, I put myself on a financial diet.

I was led to this project after really examining my budget. There are certain material goals I’d like to accomplish, such as a new house, paying off my car and braces for the 9-year-old. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to accomplish those goals without a few grand in the bank.

What I found was that I could see where the majority of my money was going — and also, where it wasn’t going, like into a savings account where it needed to be.

I found that the majority of my “disposable” cash went to eating out and shoes.

Goodness, but I do so love a pair of nice heels, and in my profession it’s so much easier to grab a lunch plate from CJ’s or some chicken strips from the Corner Market. I generally don’t cook a lot at home since ours is a split household. It doesn’t make much sense to cook a big meal when they’re going to eat at their dad’s the next night. Plus, I hate leftovers, but I digress …

In light of recent announcements from automakers and big banks who say they can no longer operate and must file bankruptcy, I ask this … Why have they not put themselves on a financial diet?

I think it’s a logical question that all areas of retail trade, as well as our own local governments, could ask themselves.

Let’s start with the basic question of, “If car companies can slash prices of new vehicles by $10,000 today, why couldn’t they do it five years ago?”

Case in point, I bought a new car in 2006. It only had 21 miles on it when I drove it off the lot. For argument’s sake, if $10,000 was knocked off the initial purchase price, it might’ve saved me approximately $100 on my monthly payment. With that $100, I could have bought more groceries or taken my kids out to dinner and had popcorn. Each with the same result — more tax money in the coffers for better services, better streets and more.

Multiply that gain by 12, then that number by the two million or so people who bought new cars last year.

Anyway you look at it, that’s a lot of money spent. On the flip side, if auto industries streamlined production and cut wasteful spending, that’s also a lot of money saved.

A win-win, if you will.

We could apply that same concept to spending on a local level, whether it’s our county government, municipal government and even our own households.

Just by cutting wasteful spending, (i.e. eating out and new shoes, even though they are so cute) one would be amazed at the savings.

And for those who may not be convinced I’m on the right track. Ponder on this: Why do fast-food places have $1 menus, but still charge me $5 for a cheeseburger?

If you can make a chicken sandwich for a $1, it stands to reason that a bun, a hamburger patty, a few onions, a pickle and two squirts of mayonnaise, ketchup and mustard should not cost $5. Period.