Happy New Year, one and all! –Well, America has made it through the ‘fiscal cliff,’ with some new legislation… much to the delight to some… and to the chagrin of others. America has once again, kicked the can down the road. One thing is for sure: the cost of living in America is going up- up- up! And not in the distant future… but right now. Taxes will begin to roll into our lives from every nook and craney. We must get ready to live on less. That requires stamina, creativity and the humility to achieve. “Be the change you want to see in this world,” said world humanitarian, Mahatma Ghandi. And his wisdom is still applicable today—genuine wisdom is timeless, right? –So, to begin the New Year, let us put on the New Thought! How to prosper in a shrinking economy with growing debt and expenses?! Each of us must learn how to live simply in order to simply live! Here are 35+ suggestions, most of which Suzy’s already applied with her own family. Be sure to write me your own suggestions to live simply. In the meantime, enjoy!
Regardless of political affiliation or income, all people share at least one common denominator: to live, prosper and provide for their families. To me, I want to be happy… I want my kids and grandkids to be happy… and live in a world of possibilities. The recent merry-go-round of the 90’s falsehoods in de-regulated banking and mortgage have collapsed: the days of mega-increases in stocks and home values were just an illusion and— as painful as it is for me to say– our government enabled the illusion through voodoo math and deception. Many governments enabled the illusion around the world.
America is in deep financial troubles that are worsening by the second. http://www.brillig.com/debt_clock/
In a nutshell…. the federal government continues to borrow more than we take in: America borrows while the federal deficit (the imbalance between revenues and expenditures,) balloons by trillions of dollars. How much is that, really? My mom read an article to me decades ago that if we had one million dollars in the days of Christ (2000+ years ago,) and had spent a thousand dollars every day since Christ was born… we’d still have cash leftover. A million is 1,000,000, or 10 to the sixth power (10 x 10 x 10 x 10 x 10 x 10.) You can buy:
• 22 brand new $45,000.00 sports cars— with cash leftover for the tax;
• or three houses worth $333,000.00 each– with cash leftover to pay the tax;
• or 6 townhomes worth $150,000.00 each– with cash leftover to pay the tax.
A BILLION dollars is 10 to the power of 9: 1,000,000,000. A billion dollars would buy
• 300 homes worth $333,000.00 each with (you guessed it) cash leftover to pay tax;
• Or 666 townhomes worth $150,000.00 each with cash leftover to pay tax:
• Or 2,222 sports cars worth $45,000.00 each with cash leftover to pay tax.
A TRILLION dollars is represented by 10 to the 12th power: 1 followed by 18 zeros!! 1,000,000,000,000,000,000.00 My calculator doesn’t compute trillions, so I challenge you to compute how many sports cars, homes and townhomes a trillion dollars buys.
America currently is 16 trillion dollars in debt. Actually, way more— when you calculate as of yet unpaid interest on these loans. Because interest rates are artificially low (the fed artificially holds interest rates low, which pisses off the Chinese and others who lend us trillions,) the government doesn’t address the interest. But consumers know that interest is the sleeping tiger. If your Visa bill says you owe them $5,000.00, that’s just principle. The “payoff balance” is the nasty surprise. Just like our national debt— which will fall to the next 3 or 4 generations of Americans. So much for our freedom! Life will seem like indentured servitude.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indentured_servant In fact, the government now makes it possible for college grads with big debt, to easily work for government: institutionalizing ‘debt forgiveness,’ in exchange for their continued employment. This may seem like a good idea to some: but others may see this as a trap to stay in basically, a low-paying job. Besides, these jobs may have been doable without college whatsoever. Kinda like another merry-go-round. And let’s remember that those among us aspired to become doctors and lawyers have way more debt than most other students. Choose wisely!
How is the executive dealing with the ticking time-bomb of our national debt? By raising the debt ceiling: how much America can borrow. How can we possibly re-pay this gargantuan debt? Through gargantuan taxes which will ruin the value of our currency. In Germany, for example, following WWI, a loaf of bread cost the German people a wheel-barrow full of paper money. That’s called, hyper-inflation (the root cause of Germany’s desperation to amass military power, leading to WWII.) Hyper-inflation is where our lawmakers are leading our grandchildren, as America will then slump into a third -world country ripe for hyper-corruption and crime.
How will Americans survive the future of crushing debt and taxes? By living simply now. Live simply to simply– live.
Here are some suggestions for those who want to be prepared for what is heading inevitably heading our way:
• First and foremost: SAVE your cash. Take your credit cards out of your wallet. Buy only with ready cash;
• Learn to live with less: less house, less vacation, fewer clothes, less expensive furniture, less food—
• Change your lifestyle to eat more plant based diets— learn about nutrition and lose weight. Your doctor– while you still have one– will bless you! –Get up and move!
• Research recipes for home-made soups and stews: freeze extras, saving on time and energy. Your waistline (and colon!) will thank you!
• Drop the fatty and trans-fatty junk food: BAKE and COOK your own wholesome foods. Then check the internet for cooking contests for you and the kids. Winning even a token prize is a big kick!
• Re-evaluate your life insurance. Term life (to protect your family,) may be the better buy as opposed to the pricey whole or universal life policies.
• When it comes to Property/Casualty insurance, remember the cardinal rule: less stuff means less premium cost. Call your agent and have ‘em run some numbers for you.
• Cut every expense from your home budget that you can: remember, it ain’t how much you earn—it’s how much ya keep. And future life in America means keeping way, way less.
• Learn about tax codes– take advantage of the knowledge and apply what you learn. http://www.irs.gov/
• Look at home-based businesses: and tax advantages—while we still have them. When tax codes begin to change, you’ll already have a handle on steps to take to protect your income.
• Educate your kids so they can start their own soccer league– forget about pricey clubs. Find your own reasonable alternatives.
• Ditto for your golf game: start patronizing public greens; there’s no shame in managing your money effectively. The only shame would be going broke without knowing why.
• Cut your bills by 10-15- or even 20%. Don’t know how? Start with the electric bill: turn off house lights in all rooms but the kitchen– and do homework, computer work, etc., as a family. Teach your kids how to use a dictionary and encyclopedia. Standardize this every evening for an hour or more. Once you see how easy and fun it is, ask the others what ways mileage, consumption and bills can be reduced– while increasing recycling and community activities.
• Stage weekly ‘family meetings,’ to incorporate successful real-life strategies. Use the 10-20-30 rule: 10% of every dollar goes to petty cash for fun things; 20% of dollars goes to short term saving; and 30% goes to long-term savings. Start out small, and work up to the really big numbers. Use activities like can collection & redemption (from local schools and businesses,) and part-time jobs;
• Pick a community-based activity, like food collection from leftovers at the grocery store to donate to charity. Apples with spots may not retail: but peeled apples make good sauce at the homeless shelter. Sandwich shops often throw away bread crusts: but soup kitchens could use them. Be creative and get involved.
• Read newspapers and start paying attention to government and the number of Executive Orders regulating laws– http://www.ucsb.edu/searchresults.shtml?q=Executive+Orders Keep informed about changes in civil liberties and law.
• Start exploring second-hand stores. Not only are the buys phenomenal… but teach effective money management.
• Put your ego aside. Having the newest, the biggest, the most expensive of anything, is an ego-trip. Set up a trading emporium with neighbors and friends. Shop around online, while we still can.
• Get comfortable with spending less cash and saving more. There is great worth in using what you have, buying less than you need and sharing more with others.
• Re-cycle your clothes to the Salvation Army and others– abide by the “one in—one out” rule. When one comes home to the closet, donate one you haven’t used/worm in several months. Photo it and document it for taxes. While we still can.
• Make sure each family member has “a job,” not necessarily for allowance, but to contribute to the family or community.
• Volunteer at the local zoo or museum. You may also earn free passes and more quality family time.
• Live simply and if you can, rent out that vacant room to a boarder or family member. Choose wisely from school, neighbors, church, co-workers, or student exchange. Check out a simple tenant’s agreement— and keep the time frame short until you’re sure it’s a good fit. Shop around. Double check the tax ramifications.
• Vacation close to home. Subscribe to local state and national parks. Or just pay the day rates. Camp out; bike-ride; hike and enjoy nature.
• Grow a garden: outdoors or indoors with hydroponics. Start a garden club. Learn about vege-power houses, such as kale and spinach. Trade with others.
• Cut back on water usage. Set the timer when showering; use a watering can; trade out lawn plants with drought-resistant plants; plant fruit trees for your zone.
• Learn to can food. Enlist the whole family: everyone has a job– finding bargains; prepping foods; organizing the kitchen; labeling and inventorying back stock;
• Learn how to sew. Teach children. Knit, crochet, or hand sew.
• Start a hobby like re-staining wooden doors; mastermind it into a home business by giving your neighbors a ‘deal,’ and encourage them to tell their friends.
• Learn how to change your car’s oil, change a tire, replace the windshield wipers. Teach your kids.
• “Save” your kids a little less, and teach your kids resilience a little more. When kids screw up, there are consequences. Don’t rob your kids of their life lessons: has anyone robbed yours from you?
• Play the ‘do it yourself,’ game; research anything and everything you need to know but were too embarrassed to admit. Challenge your family to do the same. Then, share the info and feedback. Make it fun!
• Invest in a time share, if you want: just be sure that it isn’t a ‘use it or lose it,’ place… and pay it off, giving your family years—or decades– of enjoyment.
• Get used to saying things like, “we can’t afford that;” or, “that’s too expensive.” Truthfully, the adage goes that, “a fool and his money are soon parted.” America has been acting foolish for a long time and it’s going to hurt a lot of folks.
• For colleges, try on-line or community colleges. Most 4-year school curriculums can be cut in half with two years at a community based college. And some states offer guaranteed entry into the 4-year schools in state, if the community based curriculum is completed successfully. (Besides: research data show that most college freshmen want to escape living at home as the motivating factor for a dorm-based 4-year program.) Try to pay as you go, whenever possible.
• Without sounding too preachy… attend a church, temple, synagogue or mosque to exert your spiritual muscle. Hard times lay ahead for all of us and we need good ideas, like forgiveness and justice. Read a Bible. Ancient language too cumbersome? Try a new living translation. Start a Bible study group and invite various ministers and others to share ideas.
• Set the example of living life to the fullest and do not be afraid of the future: just be prepared. Families, neighbors, co-workers will need truth! To be yourself, one needs to know thyself.
• Express gratitude for having this opportunity to learn new life skills– your kids will thank you some day.
• Get creative! Write your own suggestions. And write me! Let me know how it’s going!
We often hear commercials telling us to buy gold– because soon, our paper money will be worthless. If I brought gold coins to the market, I’d probably get mobbed! Silver, on the other hand, seems reasonable. I can imagine a silver coin paying for a bag of groceries or a tank of gas. But gold? Too dicey for my tastes. What do you think? Write me.
Also, in case the American economy heals, our country heals, and we grow stronger, not weaker– then all these suggestions still have taught us how to be resilient. And self-sufficient. I pray to God that that is the case. Better to be safe than sorry.
One more note: research data show that most children don’t WANT stuff– they want their families. So, play a board game; read books; bake or cook something wholesome; do an art project. A long time ago, a group of friends made funky Disney-style grave ‘stones’ from papier-mache for a terrific Halloween party. Those markers are still the center of my girlfriend’s lawn each autumn! –Invite your kids to help create suggestions. Children have a natural desire to help out… to contribute….to make a difference. By practicing common sense plans, they learn:
1. –how to survive tough times, AND prosper;
2. — and they can do it again!
These two facts are the basis of success to living simply in order to– simply live!
Keep in touch, one and all. Don’t’ forget to write Suzy! And keep living simply!
©Suzy Right llc 2013