I hate to sound like Andy Rooney, but I think the time has come to retire the ad campaigns from retailers promising to "help" us with the recession by . . . giving us modest discounts on non-essential consumer goods. I am in receipt of the following email from Mitchell Gold/Bob Williams, from whom I bought a (very nice, reasonably priced) couch several years ago:
We understand that consumers are opening their wallets with caution during this time of economic uncertainty. So, to help stimulate the economy and your senses, we're offering you a comfortable 20% off the following:
Special Order Upholstery:
Select from 450+ frame styles available in 340+ fabrics and leathers. Save hundreds on: sofas, sectionals, sleepers, chairs, dining chairs, beds, ottomans and more. Delivered to you in approximately six short weeks.
Our end tables are just the beginning of your savings. Choose from cocktail tables to media consoles to dining tables and everything in-between: all 20% off.
This is of a piece with this now-ubiquitous ad:
I mean, thanks, guys, but my idea of cutting back does not involve buying expensive furniture at 20% off; it involves not buying new furniture at all. And I'm preserving my sense of "living well" by never, ever, ordering (shudder) pizza from Dominos--at least not while I still have a jar of peanut butter to my name.
Meanwhile, the hosts on QVC have apparently started prepending the phrase "We're all watching our money these days" to exhortations to buy teddy bears infused with daffodil-scented soy candle wax and similar necessities. Apparently we're all watching our money from a distance, as it disappears into the gaping maw of Mastercard.
The one industry not ostentatiously offering to help me save money is the banking industry, which hasn't been trying to entice me into their savings vehicles with high rates and low fees. We have a long way to go before the American savings culture turns into what it should have been all along.