You encourage people to save money. We hear so much from politicians encouraging people to spend money and grow the economy.

Joe Dominguez: Our politicians are actually addressing the fact that our low savings rate is hurting us economically. As an industrial nation, we need to have a much higher savings rate in order to be able to adequately compete, especially with Pacific Rim nations that have savings rates in the two digits. We have a savings rate in the 3- to 5-percent bracket while other nations have 10- to 20-percent savings rates.

Vicki Robin: Another reason why we're encouraging personal savings is that creates a pool of capital in this country for things like schools, roads, libraries. People are now very reluctant to pass a school bond and tax themselves further to pay for the school bond because they feel "maxed out" financially. So if you didn't feel as maxed out financially, you might be more willing to vote on collective consumption that will increase the quality of life in your whole community.

Joe Dominguez: It's investing in the future, your kids' future, your own future, your nation's future rather than glomming on to it all for yourself, right now, and maxing out the credit cards, which is putting a lien on your future, on your kids and the whole system. That's the craziness of today.

Your book isn't based on hints and tips for saving money. Why not?

Joe Dominguez: Each person will develop their own particular quirks, if you will, on how to more effectively save money. I don't like giving them hints and tips because something that works for me is not going to work for them. I don't want people to go and plant gardens if that isn't the joy for them. If they're doing it to save money -- "I ought to do this" -- that's not fun, that's like taking a laxative.

I don't think that I even do anything other than have the attitudinal shift that my life is not about spending money. And not about earning and spending. You know going to the mall -- the mall, eech. I mean, oh my God, what a place to hang out! No wonder they call them mall rats, you know rats hanging around garbage. It's a kind of sickness. I don't do things that are insane like hang around the mall and blow an afternoon and maybe blow another $100. That doesn't make sense.

What do you suggest people do instead?

Vicki Robin: I once wrote an article called "Purging the Urge to Splurge, 50 Simple Things You Can Do Instead of Shopping" -- basically trying to bring back the notion that life can be fun. Take a walk with a friend, and ask the person how they are. It's that ancient art of conversation that we've forgotten to do because we sit in front of the tube all the time.

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