The Age of Scarcity?

Posted By on November 4, 2008

Today is a big moment in history. We are on the verge of selecting a new president, who will have to lead us during a difficult and unsettling time in our country. This past weekend, I attended the American Association of Medical Colleges conference in San Antonio, and the election was on everyone’s mind. Ted Koppel, our keynote, spoke about the presidential race, the economy, and juicy tidbits about Henry Kissinger, Richard Nixon and other characters from history. In terms of the economy, one of the things he discussed was how we were entering the Age of Scarcity. This means we won’t have the resources and money to buy everything we now do, and it will be more difficult to buy houses and other items on credit. I had visions of doing what my parents and grandparents did – washing tinfoil and plastic bags to reuse them, keeping empty jars and plastic containers, and scraping every bit of toothpaste, shampoo, and soap out of the bottles. Some of those items wouldn’t be so bad to do in order to stretch our dollars a bit further. But are you ready for the Age of Scarcity?

  • Buy what you need. Shop with a list and coupons. Before purchasing luxury items, ask yourself: Do you need it? Will you use it? Is this something that can wait? Do you have the money for it? Layaway is becoming vogue again at stores such as Wal-Mart and K-Mart.
  • Reduce, reuse, recycle. Conservation is going to become even more important and vital. Do what you can to save the Earth. Yes, it can time consuming and inconvenient, but the end result is worth it.
  • Pay attention to the little things. The little purchases can add up. Daily coffees, lunches, and snacks can add up if you’re purchasing these items at work or stores. Bringing your own coffee and tea and making your own lunches can save a few dollars here and there, and those dollars add up. Stash snacks in your desk drawer for afternoon noshes.
  • Pay off your debt. It’s easier said than done, but make every effort to pay your credit cards and other debts as quickly as possible. Use cash or your debit card when making purchases instead of adding to your credit cards. There are many websites out there offering advice on paying down debts.
  • Save for future emergencies. Tucking away a few dollars will help you to cope with those emergencies that come up. Setting up an automatic deduction from your checking account into savings so you won’t miss the money. I personally have an ING Direct savings account and have it set up so money automatically goes from my checking into my savings.

Taking small steps now will help us all in the long run, particularly if the future Age of Scarcity results in further belt-tightening. We’ll be ahead of the game.

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