Archive for July 30, 2011

How People That Aren’t Politicians Have to Budget

When those of us that don’t own a counterfeiting operation have a financial mishap whether from losing a job, having our pay cut, or our business isn’t taking in enough funds due to the bad economy, we have to cut costs or we will have them cut for us. Some of us realize that if our income is X, we can’t spend X + 1000 every month or we’re going to be in deep financial shit. We cut out the cable, the subscriptions, stop shopping for new clothes, stop eating out, forget about expensive cell phones and other electronic toys, cut up the credit cards, do whatever we need to do to lower the utility payments, try to restructure our housing loan if possible, and forego a new vehicle. It’s called living within our means. If our costs are still too high, we start selling off things and take a job beneath our dignity to pay our expenses.

There are those of us that have to go through the five stages of grief in order to get our financial houses in order, though. A huge life event like this can be as stressful as the death of someone we love. In a way, it is. It is the death of a way of life.

There are some people that just can’t believe that this is happening to them, or that they’ll find a job in short order and everything will be fine again. (I completely understand that viewpoint. I mean, after all, I’m so wonderful that people will be engaging in fist fights and bidding wars over my services, right? Even though most of my industry has been offshored or had immigrants brought in to do it at a fraction of my former pay.) Since it will be raining money even harder than before, time to go splurge on that expensive vacation! Put it on the credit cards! Folks, this is called denial.

Anger kicks in when the credit card interest rates start rising. That formerly low interest rate starts getting kicked up pretty high when it gets maxed out. A 30% interest rate makes a helluva lot of difference in whether a person can make the payment or not. Which brings us to ….

Bargaining with the banks and credit card companies is an interesting exercise in futility, particularly if a person’s past cash flow had been very high and the present cash flow is very low. They keep insisting on things such as the need to pay thousands of dollars per month on outstanding and past due debt, and can’t seem to grasp that the formerly high income is now $1,100 per month (maximum Florida benefits) in unemployment or a part-time retail or fast food job. And food, rent or mortgage payments, and utilities have to come outta that, too. No matter how hard they scream about payment, there is just so much money to go around and, by the time there are meetings with the creditors, the credit rating is shot and there is no much thing as a loan at a reasonable rate. On the one hand, it gives the creditee power in the negotiations because what are the creditors gonna do? If creditors keep pissing the creditee off, he/she will just declare bankruptcy and liquidate everything. If the creditee is smart, they will have long ago liquidated as much as possible before a bankrupcy court got hold of the assets. On the other hand, if the creditees have any emergencies whatsoever, they’re screwed.

That is truly a helpless feeling, and depression sneaks in and saps the vitality and strength and decision making process. People feel hopeless and worthless. Instead of facing the future with renewed determination, they face the future with dread and fear of living under a bridge in an abandoned carton eating from dumpsters as the best-case scenario.

When people reach acceptance that things are what they are, they can then move on. They can retrain. They can relocate. They can declare bankruptcy, clear the decks, and start anew.

Our government has severe budget problems. The President and Senate leader seem to be in either the denial (the problem is those darn Republicans and their stupid insistence on a balanced budget) or maybe the anger portion. The people in the USA, too, need to realize that there just isn’t enough money to go around. Decisions have to be made. Cuts WILL be made either now or later.

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Wuh Oh!

My vehicle may not be fixable for an amount that we want to put into a 20-year-old vehicle. Wuh oh. I gotta be drivin’ it to school in two weeks!

“No problem”, says SwampMan. “I’ll just fix up the old Blazer for you.”

I dunno. Trading in a 20-year-old vehicle for a 25-year-old vehicle somehow just doesn’t seem like a good idea. Last year at my old school, people kept their phones on in the morning in case I had to call them because I broke down. (They said NO WAY were they going to take my place while I had my vehicle towed. They would COME GET ME!) This year, I’ve been assigned to a new school where I don’t know anybody and there’s nobody that lives near me. I’d get a motorcycle for a backup vehicle but, with logging trucks racing down a two-lane blacktop dropping branches as they bounce down the road and no freakin’ shoulders to dodge to, I doubt if I would survive the first week.

Nah, my job doesn’t pay enough to justify making the payments on a new vehicle. Doesn’t even pay enough to justify making payments on an old vehicle.

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGH! I gotta get a new phone, too!

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