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You have a very different definition of afford than I do. If I do not have the cash in hand, I do not buy something. Period.

Here is a not-so-hypothetical example that a number of my acquaintances have faced. They haven't built up their emergency fund yet. (That raises a number of other issues, but let's ignore that for now.) The car breaks down and needs several hundred dollars of repairs. Now, does the person use the credit card to pay for the repairs so the person can work, or does the car remain unrepaired, so the person cannot get to or from work in a reasonable manner? (Yes, I know that some cities have convenient public transportation, but around here you double or triple your commute time during week days, and it is even worse on weekends.)

Or consider another not-so-hypothetical situation. Someone has been employed for a fair amount of time and has work clothes that have the stains or wear from having done that job. Now that person has to go interviewing for a job. The typical recommendation is to dress a little better than someone employed in the target position, so this person needs "interview clothes" to help the odds of getting a job. Does that person spend some money up front for "interview clothes" (and a typewriter, resume copying and an answering machine) to improve the chances of getting a job, or skip these expenses because one doesn't have the cash handy?

Yes, I agree that ideally one would have a fat emergency fund. But there can be many circumstances where one doesn't have an emergency fund, such as when one has just started one's job search fresh out of school, or has suffered a financial reversal.

I think many of us would agree that such circumstances are different from someone who is normally living above one's means and letting the "I want it NOW!" urges to overcome sound financial planning. After all, "deferred gratification" requires patience.
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