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From the Editor’s Desk

Gary Foreman


Gotta Love Summer Time Outdoors

Hello to all my Frugal Friends!

Many of us enjoy spending time outdoors each summer. I’m one of them. Whether it’s cooking, eating or just relaxing I love being outside.

And it’s much more enjoyable if you have a backyard that’s made for outdoor living. Scan the shows on HGTV or the DIY network and you’ll find all kinds of ideas for backyard living. The trouble with the ones that I watch is that usually they have all kinds of materials, appliance and labor provided by the show producers. So unless your home is part of their shooting schedule, you have a much more limited budget!

But never fear! There’s help on the way! We have a number of articles that can help you create a backyard that you’ll love to live in.

Let’s start with How to Create an Outdoor Room On a Budget. You’ll find ways to use a little money and some creativity to make a wonderful addition to your home.

If you’re going to spend time outdoors, you’ll probably be doing some cooking. Watch the home shows and you’ll see some beautiful outdoor kitchens. Wouldn’t we all like to have one of those! Unaffordable? Perhaps not if you read Creating an Outdoor Kitchen Without Overcooking Your Budget!

And once you’re through with that summer feast, you’ll want to sit back and enjoy the beauty of summer. What better way than in a wonderfully decorated Backyard Gazebo?

Here’s to a wonderful summer for all of us Dollar Stretchers!

Keep on Stretching those Dollars!

Some Tough Love Advice for Your Graduates

Hello to all my Frugal Friends!

This is the time of year when students graduate from high school and college. When valedictorians and commencement speakers give speeches.

Often those speeches talk about the wide world opening up to graduates and how they can change the world. Or, another favorite theme, is that students should ‘follow their passion’ and ‘do something that you love doing’ or something similar.

I’m going to be the grown-up in the room and call baloney on all that. Not only is it bad advice, it will likely cause you much pain if you try to follow it. Let’s take a serious look at what those well meaning words really say.

We’ll begin with the ‘you can change the world’ meme. Often it’s tied to world peace, ending global hunger, saving endangered species or the planet itself. Would it be nice if those things happened? Of course! Can we make a difference? Yes, but only marginally.

Thinking that my generation is different than every generation that’s gone before for thousands of years is foolish. And presumptuous, too. I know because that’s what my generation said that we were going to do!

Did we make a difference? Sure! The lakes and rivers in the U.S. are cleaner today than they were in 1970. But countries like India and China are still polluting despite our efforts. Did the Peace Corps do many fine projects? Sure, but there’s still world hunger.

Point being that you can make a difference, but don’t think that your generation will be the one to solve the entire problem.

What about those who tell you to follow your passion? Sure, it’s great when you find work that matches your passion. We should all look to marry those two things.

But assuming that you’ll find gainful employment in a field just because you’re passionate is crazy. You may be passionate about video games, social media, gender studies, art history or any number of things. But before you spend 4 or more years in college and borrow $50k or more, you should see how many paying job opportunities will await you and your degree.

There’s a reason people with art history degrees are working at Wal-Mart. It’s because there’s only a very few jobs available in that field. You may love playing video games, but don’t count on finding a job programming or testing video games just because you’re passionate.

And don’t kid yourself. Just because somebody’s cousin landed a job or you read about someone online with your perfect job doesn’t mean that you’ll get a similar job. There are exceptions to every rule. But they don’t disprove the rule!

These graduation platitudes sound good on the surface, but there’s no truth under that surface!

I’ve probably made a few people mad because I’ve thrown cold water on their dream. So be it.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m NOT saying that we shouldn’t try to improve ourselves and the world we live in. We should do everything that we can. But let’s not pat ourselves on the back because we have some big dream that’s highly unlikely to succeed. That’s like claiming the championship trophy before the contest.

And finding a job that suits our skills is a great idea. But don’t look where there’s very few or no jobs.

Having said all that, I suspect that almost all of our readers are beyond graduation. In many cases by decades. So feel free to pass along the thoughts to your kids and grandkids. They need good advice. And you’re just the person to give it to them.

Keep on Stretching those Dollars!

About the Author

Gary Foreman is a former financial planner and purchasing manager who founded The Dollar website and newsletters in 1996. He's the author of How to Conquer Debt No Matter How Much You Have and he's been featured in MSN Money, Yahoo Finance, Fox Business, The Nightly Business Report, US News Money, and Gary shares his philosophy of money here. Gary is available for audio, video or print interviews. For more info see his media page.

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