Thursday, January 22, 2009

Madd Money: Thoughts on National Thrift Week

I owe Blunt Money for this one, so credit goes to her for stimulating the topic...

Started in 1916, and running until 1966, there was a "National Thrift Week", where the focus was to "a coast-to-coast celebration of American ideals like diligence, hard work, responsible consumerism, and smart saving". Instead of self-denial, the main focus was to develop self-control.

In some ways, today, self-control has become a dirty word. We have been raised in an era where self-control has not had to be exercised by many. Easy credit and easy terms and "how much a month" has done a lot to erode the ideas of waiting and saving for a goal. I'd compare it to someone who discovers alcohol (and I ask forgiveness from LDS readers who would gasp at my including such a comparison, but we have ample evidence of exactly what happens to people who drink to excess without appropriate restraint). It can be argued that, for many, having a little taste of wine or spirits does little or no harm, but diving in and drinking to excess can have both acute issues the next day (intense hangover) or chronic issues over time (alcohol dependency).

Using credit to excess also can leave you with both a nasty acute hangover in the short term and a potentially chronic debilitation when it comes to long term financial health. Self control, on the other hand, allows the person to keep a healthy distance between behaviors that will be detrimental, and allow them to do things that will be beneficial to them (and as for me and my LDS ilk, alcohol has been something we have been specifically guided to steer clear of completely. Were it that debt could be so completely proscribed :) ).

But there is more behind National Thrift Week than just self-control. Here are some of the ideas that "Bring Back National Thrift Week" wants people to have in the front of their minds:

Reestablish an On-Going, Year-Round Public Education Campaign
Create a Thrift Savings Plan Available to All Americans
Support Credit Union Expansion and Innovation
Expand Community Development Finance Institutions
Repurpose the Lottery
Reform Usury Laws
Keep Credit Card Companies off Campus
Establish More and Better School Savings Programs
Create State Commissions on Anti-Thrift Institutions
Create a U.S. Financial Products Safety Commission
Question "More Consumer Spending" as a Main Solution to Economic Problems

There's more ideas, and many of them will probably raise a few eyebrows, and I'll confess to not exactly having warm fuzzines for every one of the ideas, but having a dialogue on this topic is definitely long overdue.

If you’re interested in helping to bring back National Thrift Week, visit their web site at

No comments: