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I live very frugally and occasionally wonder if our US economy would collapse if everyone lived as I do. Being an American living in a small city I do drive a car, but I bought it used, and it gets 50+ MPG on the highway. Furthermore, it only gets driven about 4,000 miles per year. It’s a 96 Geo Prizm which may be the cheapest and most reliable car ever made, at least that’s sold in the US. I’ve had it for twelve years and replaced the tires and one battery with no other repair expenses. If everyone drove this car the economy would take a hard hit. If everyone used half the gas and had few repairs, millions of jobs would be gone.

96 Geo Prizm overlooking Lake Tahoe CA

MY 96 Geo Prizm overlooking Lake Tahoe CA

I have wondered why this car gets such great mileage but barely passes the famously strict California smog tests. Actually, it does great on all the tests but one, the NOx test, but on that one test it almost fails. I have suspected that high NOx was because it was running hot and at high compression even though it never has shown hot on the temperature gauge or had pings when I accelerated. I do accelerate rather conservatively but cruise with the traffic in lane two on four-lane roads, which is generally at about 67 mph. If everyone in the US drove a car like this the auto manufacturing industry would drop to ten percent of current production. But, as they used to say, “What’s good for General Motors is good for America,” and this car is definitely not good for GM even though it has their name on it.

Perhaps most people would call me a scrounge or worse, but the way I see it why buy poor quality new goods when you can buy the better quality barely used stuff for one tenth the price at a thrift store? But, is it unpatriotic? Buying things used means I am putting a whole chain of people out of work. The farmers who grow the cotton, the oil industry that supplies the plastics, the transportation industry that brought the things to our city, the local retailers, the bankers who financed those people and many more whole categories of people. The other way of viewing this problem is seeing most people going into debt to buy things they don’t really need. Are they being patriotic by squandering their time and money?

Live frugally and have money for what you really need.