Margaret Thatcher said, "The problem with Socialism is that
you eventually run out of other people's money."
It's time for some practical advice.
While the government is failing to take effective measures that will fix the financial crisis we are in, we can take measures to personally survive the madness.
So much has already been written and said about how to pull us out of the recession, near depression, we are in that I won't waste time recounting the arguments. But I will say that I think the average American seems to understand the problem and solution better than those in Congress and the White House.
How many of us, when faced with a personal financial crisis, would handle it the way the government is handling this national crisis? At the risk of sounding too simplistic, would we, for instance, refinance our home in order to pay off debt and wait a year or two before using the money to do so? That's what the administration is doing with the 'stimulus' $800+ billion funding that they approved...only using about 1/3 of it to 'stimulate' the economy now when it is needed the most, and waiting to use the remaining 2/3 in a year or two. Does that seem insane to you?
Well, it's clear that we can't wait for the government to fix things. We've got to take action to protect our personal financial situation now and for the future.
In addition to managing our investments, two practical things that all of us can do right now to help us during this season is to evaluate our actual expenditures and real needs, and apply what I'll call the '25% rule' that author Cynthia Yates talks about in her books on money management.
Yates suggests that cutting spending by 25% is not only possible, but with a little discipline, doable.
1) Simply Skip - ie instead of having that latte every morning on the way to work; skip it 1-2 times a week.
2) Mandate a Moratorium on Spending - in other words, buy only what you NEED.
3) Say No to Impulse - 50% of spending for the average person is based on impulse. Wait to purchase something, unless you really need it. Play a new game with your kids rather than buy them a new toy. (You'll be modeling for them not to live by impulse spending).
4) Use Things Up - be creative with the food you already have in your cabinet and freezer; don't give in to the ease of take out pizza, etc; hold off on buying new clothes, wear what you have.
5) Don't Waste - ie gasoline by driving to the store for groceries once a week instead of every day. Eat/freeze leftovers; consciously think of items you throw away in terms of cost vs. just a spoiled head of broccoli or container of sour cream.
And asking 10-15 minutes to figure out your actual needed expenditures (click here for pdf download) can help you gauge your spending and help you save.
No matter how tough times get, they don't last forever.
You can do this. We can do this. We need to take charge of our money now, before the government takes any more of it.
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