The thing is, you have to have money to make money and save money to have money. And to do that — get out of debt and save money — you have to live beneath your means.

One key element of this is to stop buying things out of obligation. Buy things because you need them (and shop around for the best buy), not because you think you ought to. Like the new car you buy because yours sort of stands out in the parking lot. Or the budget-busting +anniversary gift you buy because you think something less would send the wrong signal.

Someone should come up with a bumper sticker that says something like:

“Sure — but MY car isn’t financed!”

That’d shut ‘em right up. It would show you have a sense of humor, that you are aware your car is a bit of a clunker (kitsch is OK if you know it’s kitsch) . . . and it would suggest that maybe you have a longer-range goal in mind.

A $3 bumper sticker could save you $10,000!

As for the budget-busting anniversary gift, that’s where the frugal poesy comes in.

Instead of two tickets to the opera with a fancy dinner beforehand, all in a chauffeured limousine — a $400 anniversary evening on your MasterCard that adds 18% interest to the bill — how about the same opera on CD (which she or he can listen to over and over without having to dress up), a book about that opera, and this poem? (Here comes the poem.) Total cost: $40. (Forgive me if you already read this poem in PARADE. It’s the only poem I ever wrote, so I’m milking it for all it’s worth.)

If love were cash you’d have it all.
But resources right now are small.
I’ve promised that I will not borrow —
The greater gifts to give tomorrow.

Better still, some frugal poesy of your own.

Tomorrow: Gerry Studds


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