No spare cash? Foolish
heard Aesop's fable -- the one about the ant and the grasshopper.
something like this: The ant spends his time industriously storing food supplies
for use in the future while the grasshopper lounges around on a leaf, poking fun
at the ant. The grasshopper's motto is "live for today," while the ant's
creed is "be ready for tomorrow."
when winter comes and food becomes scarce, the grasshopper searches for his ant-friend
and begs for scraps.
Fortunately, the grasshopper doesn't
have access to credit cards, or he'd just go deep into debt feeding his family
and paying usurious interest rates for the privilege of doing so.
So which set of values applies to your personal financial
situation -- that of the ant or the grasshopper?
Americans as grasshoppers
The philosophy that best describes our national psyche might be
the grasshopper's. In a survey of 38 countries released last week
by ACNielsen, the United States ranked first -- top in the world
-- as the country with the highest percentage of consumers living
paycheck to paycheck. More than a quarter of us -- 28 percent, to
be exact -- said we "have
no spare cash" after paying for our essential living expenses.
Meanwhile, countries such as the Philippines, India,
Mexico, Indonesia and Thailand boast the highest
savings rates. These countries ranked at the bottom (a good
thing for them) in the no-spare-cash department.
Does the irony grab you by the collar and hurl you
across the room?
The United States is the richest country in the world,
with the highest gross domestic product out of 192 countries.
GDP is defined as "the value of all final goods
and services produced within a nation in a given year." On
a per capita basis, the United States ranks third out of 192 countries.
The Philippines ranks 107th; India, 125th; Mexico, 66th; Indonesia,
121st; and Thailand, 72nd.
Obviously, we can't attribute our strapped-for-cash
predicament solely to our financial circumstances. We live in a
rich country and, as a whole, are not deprived of income opportunities.
Yet, somehow many of us fritter away our hard-earned resources.