It was 2002 when I first heard about the Dave Ramsey method, but it just confirmed what I knew to be true about money, debt, and freedom from my upbringing. Somehow along the way, though, I went astray and bought in to the whole consumer culture with quick credit and no savings. I had let myself believe that I would just eventually earn more and then in that inevitable future, I would pay things off and be financially secure.
Well, I am earning far less now in 2008 than I was in 2002, but am much more free, because I am in control of my money through budgeting and a sound savings plan. Over the past six years, I have paid a lot of attention to articles and radio shows about personal finance (Marketplace Money, in particular), but those seemed to focus more on planning for retirement or saving for kids' college, not as much on what to do in the here and now to get out of debt, and while they didn't praise credit cards, they didn't always demonize them as much as I'd have liked.
But now that economies around the world are crashing due to being built on credit and speculation, ideas about thrift, and cutting back, and actually living within one's means are suddenly mainstream. I can't turn on the radio without hearing about how families are cutting back on expenses, where to buy used clothing, where to find bargains in the grocery store, how to take care of your bike if you've sold your car. It's nice to hear all this, and it's kind of nice to feel like those of us who have been stretching our dollars for a while in order to achieve personal freedom by not being enslaved to consumerism and earning enough to support that have been ahead of the curve.
This morning's news reports that the stock markets are back on the way up. I wonder if the recent thrift movement over the past few weeks has been a "bubble" or if it really does signal a change in mainstream America's relationship with money, credit, debt, thrift, and our general life styles. I've never felt so supported and accepted for being thrifty as I do right now.