It's a credit crunch. A meltdown. A financial crisis! A banking collapse! While we're all panicking, what should we do? While Tracy Coenen points out that the credit crunch is overstated, I have to agree with Julie Tilsner, who suggests banning credit cards. But my plan goes even further: I don't want to borrow any money for anything. Not a major appliance "buy now pay in 2010!" plan. Not a new car. Not a home equity loan, a refinance with cash out, or anything.

Having made all (or, well, many) of the financial mistakes a woman can make, I've vowed to only buy the stuff I can afford. If my dishwasher bites the dust (it did), I'll wash dishes by hand until I can find a good used machine for my budget or until my sister's erstwhile boyfriend installs the extra one he promised us. If my glass-top stove breaks (yep), I'll cook with the two burners whose glass wasn't totally shattered until I find the gas stove of my dreams on craigslist (anyone want to barter for homemade fig pear lavender jam?). If we need to get around town, we'll ride our bikes or the city bus. Need to go on a vacation? Need a new TV? No one needs these things. New school clothes? Goodwill. New roof? Guess I'd better start saving now.

I've learned that borrowing money when you're broke is only going to make you more broke in the future. The stuff I earnestly told myself was an "investment" has turned out to be just stuff, much of which wouldn't even move for a few dollars at our family's yard sale.

If only the nation's banks could learn that lesson. But they just borrowed money from their rich Uncle Sam. And you and I both know what happens when you borrow money from family...

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