Why I Still use a Flip Phone ( and what this has to do with not having children…)


I was raised middle class in a suburb of Chicago.  My father  had a college degree and owned a business.  My mother had some college, and was proficient  in bookkeeping.  She was also good with managing a budget.  I learned how to manage  my money  from her.  I know this is a really important, and a fundamental reason some people remain poor, some who were not poor  sink into poverty, and  why, without luck, once you are poor, you never climb back into the middle class.

I left home when I turned 18, and things were going pretty well until the 1973 oil embargo and the rise of OPEC.  I can’t blame my ‘poverty’ on just that, but it’s a factor for many  American ‘baby boomers’.

My mother taught me that  all my  living expenses should be met by 1 week’s wages. Everything else I made I could spend, save, or invest.  I was really too young to understand investing.  Part of that  was that my parents trusted insurance…and insurance is not transparent.  It’s  one thing to have life insurance to take care of your kids. It’s quite another to think that an annuity will support you after you retire if you don’t know what it is invested in.

In any case,  due to  the OPEC oil embargo, the price of a gallon of gas, at 28c( there was a gas war that lasted  almost a year in the southern Wisconsin area) jumped to 50c overnight…and it just kept going up.  Actually, when you  think if it, this was over 40 years ago—and the idea that gas is not now $10 a gallon (as it is in the REST OF THE WORLD) is remarkable. The one  thing that Democrats and Republicans keep agreeing on is price supports for the fossil fuel industry.  It shouldn’t have taken  over 30 years for cars to achieve  30 miles per gallon.

Energy costs are one influence on earnings and spendable income.  The other is real estate speculation.  The  one factor  that pushed me to convince my boyfriend/fiance to marry  me(1977) was  that I could see real estate was getting expensive, and if we didn’t get married and buy a home, we would be priced out of the neighborhood we wanted to live in.

Another friend, much older,  convinced is to  look at multi-unit housing, so we’d have some income while my husband was in school.  This was in the mid 1970’s,  and it was very  good advice.  Although we were ultimately divorced, owning a  two-flat and having equity in real estate allowed me to keep up a lifestyle.

I made several good decisions:  by learning to groom dogs, I had a somewhat marketable skill, so I was able to pay cash for my undergraduate degree (also, because I had the income from the  two flat paying the mortgage),  so I never  incurred debt for my education, and because  my rental unit covered the mortgage and taxes, I had a bit of freedom to explore all options.  Also, by not  having children I could not afford, I  didn’t have  other little lives to think about.  Dogs are cheaper.

Thankfully,  I am not a slave to fashion.  Unfortunately, technology  has become unavoidable.  I would prefer to  not have a cell phone, truth be told. Everyone expects you to be available all the time, and they get really intrusive when you are not.  Because people expect you to have a cell phone,  I have one…but now people expect you to have a SMART PHONE…and I just don’t want to pay for the data plan.  So, I am putting it off.

I will have the mortgage paid off in a few years, and there will be no other debts.  As my accountant says, I have not borrowed a lifestyle I can’t afford.  My biggest indulgences are dog training classes and performance events.  I’d rather have the experiences than things.  I know I will have to  get a smart phjone at some point…but that is another day.

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