Sunday, March 29, 2009

The paradox of thrift

Last week, my husband's employer froze salaries for this year. The decision was not unexpected or a surprise. And they are not alone in this move. My employer froze salaries several weeks ago. In no way I am criticizing the decisions; in fact, most people with jobs right now are simply grateful to have one.

However those moves, along with the plethora of businesses, non profits, schools and the like who have done the same, have rippling effects. This week our local paper cut benefits and increased contributions. The editor wrote a piece on the front page outlining the hows and whys, along with a commitment to keep the paper coming to our door.

These moves, individually and collectively, add to our overall concern. These moves don't correspond to talking heads who spout, 'we are near the bottom' or 'things are starting to improve'; rather they speak to me that things for the next business year don't look good at all. So we save. We don't spend. Who knows what benefit will be cut next or whose salary or even job will be cut and eliminated.

I don't blame people as I have the same concerns. The impact of saving and not spending will not help our economy. If we don't spend, this cycle will simply get worse. So here is what we did. We identified community farmers, local businesses and companies and have committed to buying local as much as possible. We bought into local collectives for farming and meat; shop at our local businesses for home products and try and eat out at least once a week. This keeps us investing in the community but saving enough money for our own personal comfort.

It's intentional and we hope it works. Can you spend a little?


Anonymous said...

Hi Maven

As is your trademark, you are providing good advice. I am unemployed and have been for a while. However, I notice that if I do not do something for myself and my family from time to time, like going to the movies, eating (Wendy’s) out or just buying a pair of socks, I (and my family) feel even worse about the situation.

Doing something for you helps the economy and also helps us to feel less despair.

CCC said...

Great post and timely as well. My company recently froze salaries for office staff and I just found out today that my father in law will be laid off by the summer.

It's tough to be optimistic in times like this but if we don't then who will? Your suggestion to support local organizations is a good one and I hope it reaches more people. This article ( helps illustrate your point as well.

Thanks again!

HR Maven said...

Anonymous, thanks for stopping by. I wish you the best in your job search.

CCC, thanks for the words. It is tough to be optimistic but we must.

I appreciate you stopping by.

Training Time said...

I agree - supporting local businesses is the way to go right now. People are becoming more conscious of how they spend and putting your money back into your community will make the biggest impact for the average person. Great post!