Saving money can cause you to go bankrupt


Many years ago, before I decided to pursue an exciting career in journalism, I had an even more exciting career in construction, working with a group of masons for P&I Mason Contractors in Bridgeport. P for Pierelli and I for Iannucci.

Despite the Italian leadership, it was a diverse and inclusive group, long before the idea became popular. There were Irish-Americans, African-Americans, Latinos, and other assorted ethnic groups.

Working in construction helped me pay off my college debt much faster than my first newspaper job, and during my years on the scaffold I learned things about life that I had never learned in Higher Education. As my colleagues told me, “Earn by learning”. In more ways than one. I learned to smoke and I learned to drink, but that’s another story.

The job taught me what I needed to know to get through life, not what someone said I should believe. I sometimes think I should have become a craftsman. Have you recently tried to hire an electrician or plumber? They’re so busy they don’t even return phone calls.

I still remember a fundamental economic principle that a Mason named Joey D. taught me, that Republicans and certainly Democrats should take to heart, given the ever-increasing $30 trillion national debt. rise and the nasty case of inflation spreading like a fiscal COVID case.

If I remember correctly, Joey’s wife bought a new French Provincial bedroom set, which looked out of place in an Italian home, but what do I know of the interior decor? When she told him about her acquisition and showed him the invoice, he gasped…until she assured him she got a good deal, along with a line of credit that gave him right to future deals.

When he finished his story, he sighed and said, “A guy could go broke saving money.” (Substitute the gender of your choice.)

It should be the epitaph of 21st century America, where consumers are as addicted to spending as the government. It could be our national motto. Post it prominently in the chambers of every congressional budget and appropriations committee, not to mention my home, where I, too, am always on the hunt for bargains that will bankrupt me. It’s the American way.

For example, I recently received a coupon for magazine subscriptions that said, “The more you buy, the more you save!” I planned to put it to good use until I remembered Joey’s words: “A guy could go broke saving money.” The truth is, I like to spend, but I’m not the government, so I spend my own money and not someone else’s.

This artwork by William Brown references the burden of overconsumption in the United States

William Brown

I also like to save. Last week, when I came home from the supermarket, I showed my wife the receipt, which showed that I had saved $27.95 on the grocery bill. But instead of congratulating me, she grumbled, “Look at all the stuff you bought that we don’t need.” There was chocolate ice cream, Cheez-Its and cronuts, all of which are bad for my cholesterol. (I guess a guy could also die saving money.) Just like the government, II have never been able to differentiate my needs from my wants.

What is really troubling is that groceries are much more expensive than six months ago. I spent 15 minutes analyzing the receipt and realized that I could have saved even more if it hadn’t been for the seltzer and water deposits, which makes me wonder ask why we still pay deposits on bottles and cans when the city makes money recycling them.

Since our country is going through a difficult period, I decided to adopt the habits of Joey D. and another great American who advocated living within his means and whose advice could serve us well at this time… Benjamin Franklin. You’ve seen his face on $100 bills, and I urge our members of Congress to put the motto “You Could Go Bankrupt Saving Money” under his picture.

When it comes to frugal living, there is no greater sage. Author of Poor Richard’s Almanac, he made his debut in the newspapers. He was a printer, publisher, author, statesman and inventor. He was also the first Postmaster General, so it’s ironic that the Postal Service has a $63 billion debt.

“Beware of small expenses,” he once said. “A small leak will sink a great ship.”

And “If you know how to spend less than you earn, you have the philosopher’s stone.” I never learned that lesson, but neither did our elected officials. However, they can tax and print more money.

You’ve probably heard Franklin’s most famous saying: “A penny saved is a penny earned.” In tribute to him, thousands of visitors pass by his grave at Christ Church in Philadelphia and throw pennies at it, and each year the church brings in about $3,000, which pays for the upkeep of the property.

Franklin also said, “Rather go to bed without dinner than go into debt.” Looking back, I sincerely hope Joey D. fell asleep in his French provincial bed with a full stomach…and woke up debt-free.

Joe Pisani, former Stamford lawyer and editor of Greenwich Times, can be reached at [email protected]


About Author

Comments are closed.