Tired of running out of time and money? Scrimping and saving just to make ends meet?
Try moving to Harlingen, Texas. The cost of living there is only about 40% of the cost of living in Manhattan.
You can live more cheaply in a place like Harlingen. You’re almost guaranteed to lower your spending, because there’s not much there to spend money on.
We’ve never been to Harlingen, so maybe we’re wrong, but we imagine it is a pretty slow place. Few fancy restaurants. Few theatres. Few luxury shops. Which makes it hard to part with money. Of course this improves your cash-flow. But it also allows you the glorious privilege of doing nothing.
As our friend in Florida reminded us, most people can’t stop. Money in; money out. They have to work to pay the bills. No question of taking time off. No time to think. No time to sit still…and wait for the storm to pass.
Back in the time of the Great Depression, millions of Americans were still not completely caught up in the money economy. Many still lived on the land. They kept pigs and chickens. They tended their own gardens and “put up” their own canned goods. They cut their own wood to heat their houses. They pumped water from their own wells. Many still made their own clothes.
When the Depression came, they could hunker down and wait it out.
But today, the developed world is in a Great Correction. And it shows no sign of coming to an end. Japan is already in a slump that has lasted – off and on – longer than most marriages. Europe is headed into a slump – with half of all young people jobless in many countries. And in the US, at this stage in a typical recession/recovery cycle, the economy should be growing at an 8% rate. Instead, growth is below 2%.
Why? This is no typical recession/recovery cycle. Instead, the private sector is cutting back on debt. At the present, household debt is going down (mostly via mortgage foreclosures) at about 5% of GDP per year.
At this rate, it could take 10 years or more to get household debt down to more comfortable levels, say, around 70% of disposable income.
But the average household can’t wait 10 years for de-leveraging to do its work. Heck, it can’t even wait 2 months. Both parents work. They’ve got two cars. And two mortgages. Money in; money out. 24/7…
No garden. No firewood. No chickens. No time to wait. No time to sit still. Just bills…bills…bills…
They’ve got to work…they’ve got to earn money…they’ve got to spend…
They can’t do nothing.
They should move to Harlingen.
for The Daily Reckoning Australia