And You Thought YOUR Savings Plan was a Sacrifice?

At church this morning, a series on Finances began with a message highlighting the life of Oseola McCarty, a local washerwoman in Hattiesburg, Mississippi who became The University of Southern Mississippi’s (USM) most famous benefactor.

McCarty drew global attention after it was announced in July 1995 that she had established a trust through which, at her death, a portion of her life’s savings would be left to the university to provide scholarships for deserving students in need of financial assistance. The amount was estimated at $150,000, a surprising amount given her menial occupation.

Mrs. McCarty had been taught the value of savings at an early age, and apparently she took the advice seriously. Her frugal ways were then contrasted with our country’s dismal NEGATIVE savings rate compared to the hefty rates of other countries, notably China. A lot of this has to do with the American cultural tendency toward consumerism, which was effectively illustrated by a clip from an old Steve Martin Saturday Night Live Skit. I was going to post links to the skit, but apparently they have been removed for legal reasons. I believe it's ok to show you the transcript, however, so here it is:

Don't Buy Stuff You Cannot Afford
Husband - Steve Martin Wife - Amy Poehler With Chris Parnell
[ open on couple in kitchen trying to balance their checkbook ]

Wife: (sighs) I just can't get these numbers to add up.

Husband: Like we're never going to get out of this hole.

Wife: Credit card debt, does it ever end?

CP: [walks in] Maybe I can help.

Husband: We sure could use it.

Wife: We've tried debt consolidation companies.

Husband: We've even taken out loans to help make payments.

CP: Well, you're not the only ones. Did you know that millions of Americans live with debt they cannot control? That's why I developed this unique new program for managing your debt. It's called [presents book] "Don't Buy Stuff You Cannot Afford."

Wife: Let me see that... [grabs book, reads] "If you don't have any money, you should not buy anything." Hmm, sounds interesting

Husband: Sounds confusing.

Wife: I don't know honey, this makes a lot of sense. There's a whole section here on how to buy expensive things using money you save.

Husband: Give me that... [grabs book, looks at it] And where would you get this saved money?

CP: I tell you where and how in Chapter 3.

Wife: Ok, so what if I want something but I don’t have any money

CP: You don't buy it.

Husband: Well let's say I don't have enough money to buy something. Should I buy it anyways?

CP: No-o-o-o.

Husband: Now I'm really confused!

CP: It's a little confusing at first.

Wife: Well what if you have the money, can you buy something?

CP: Yes.

Wife: Now take the money away. Same story?

CP: Nope. You shouldn't buy stuff when you don't have the money.

Husband: I think I got it. I buy something I want, and then hope that I can pay for it right?

CP: No. You make sure you have money, then you buy it.

Husband: Oh, THEN you buy it. But shouldn't you buy it before you have the money?

CP: No-o-o-o.

Wife: Why not?

CP: It's in the book. It's only one page long. The advice is priceless and the book is free.

Wife: Well, I like the sound of that.

Husband: Yeah, we can put it on our credit card.

CP: [shakes head]

Announcer: So get out of debt now, write for your free copy of "Don't Buy Stuff You Cannot Afford." If you buy now you'll also receive, "Seriously, If You Don't Have the Money, Don't Buy It!" Along with a 12-month subscription to "Stop Buying Stuff Magazine." So order today!
So there you have it. Which philosophy will you choose to line up with? I’ll take Oseola McCarty’s. Since she died in 1999, by now the first student that she helped through college should have graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi. And all the stuff that our SNL skit couple bought has long since gone to the junkyard.

I just thought I’d share this in case you’re still contemplating on applying exception 2, (the “I NEED the money” exception) in order to start drawing on your social security early. :-) Bob

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