Our government officials, both state and federal, are bashing each other on the heads while trying to change health care, dealing with debt limit increases or reductions, looking at unemployment that doesn’t seem to be going down, few new jobs being created, gas prices rising again, lowering taxes for the rich and increasing them for the middle class and a host of other issues. With all of that going on, we thought it was a good time for us to take a look in the mirror and claim our part in the mess.
I know many of us think “what did I do”? We’re going to point out 5 things we did that have contributed to all this mess we have. We’re not picking sides on any of these issues; I’m just calling them out, taking part of the blame and bringing you along with me.
1. We buy things we can’t afford instead of concentrating on the things we need.
We’re human; we want things. Often we buy things on credit because we know the monthly payments won’t be that high.
The problem here is twofold. One, we buy too many things and suddenly that “low” payment is pretty high. Two, we think the income we’re getting will continue to be steady, if not increase on a consistent basis.
Turns out the first part comes true but that second part doesn’t. Banks and financial institutions are sneaky. They gave you a $10,000 credit limit when you were only making $20,000 a year, and it looks like the holy grail.
You should have known better to fall for it, but how many people actually do that. Once they have you in their clutches they raise the annual percentage rate but you probably didn’t notice it because you never read the information they send you along with the bill. Don’t even thinking about missing a payment; you won’t like what happens if you do.
2. You bought a house you should have known you couldn’t afford.
Everyone deserves to own a home if they can pay for it. That’s the crucial issue, though; can you pay for it?
First, the first realtor you went to probably told you that you could afford to buy a house you really couldn’t afford. We’ve heard where realtors tell people they can afford to buy a house around $250,000 when combined they’re only making around $70,000. What they don’t tell you is if you’re a first time homeowner you’re also going to have to pay escrow, aka property taxes, along with your mortgage, which leaves you with a lot less money for bills and other things.
Second, many banks in many states came up with these sneaky floating interest loans that turned out to be predatory; some of that is still around many states. Many of us didn’t use common sense when we knew what the terms were, or didn’t hire our own lawyers to read the contracts for us and tell us what they meant. We might not always know all the questions to ask, but we should always ask the most important question: how much will we have to pay monthly.
We didn’t understand what we were signing up for? Shame on us! This wasn’t a puppy we bought; it was a house, a big, scary, very expensive piece of property. You probably had people telling you that the worth of your house would always go up; that doesn’t happen all the time. Always trust your gut instinct; if you’re worried about whether or not you can afford to buy a house, wait until you’re ready to do it.
3. You switch jobs all the time.
We’re always looking for more money or the next challenge, right? What are you really missing?
Many people don’t build any job equity where they are because they’re always the new person. Union job or not, they’re right on the cusp of the chopping block whenever something bad happens to the company. Every study out there says that even in a bad economy, the people most likely to get a new job are those that are already working (which is unfair, but we didn’t make up the rules).
Are you still trying to find yourself and find out what you like? Find it faster or consider self employment. No one likes to hire job hoppers, even if it’s more expected in the 2020s, so even if there’s a job you don’t like, you should try to find a way to put in time somewhere. The problem is that most people take the first job that comes their way and end up on the job hopping treadmill. We have this thing called the internet; do some research on potential employers to find the best fit for your talents.
4. You’re trying to impress others rather than making sure you can live well.
Did you really need that $50,000 Escalade when the Hyundai Santa Fe would have done you well? Do you really need Jimmy Choo shoes when you could have gotten a very nice pair that fit well at Penneys (is Penneys still around?)?
Many people these days are making due at stores like Walmart because they’re realizing they might not be getting name brand stuff, but they can buy 10 shirts for the price of one designer shirt, and with mixing and matching that’s a whole lot of ensembles.
Stores like Kmart (where it still exists) and Target have a lot of things for everyone that looks good and works good. If you have friends walking up to your clothes, looking at the labels and then judging you for it, those aren’t friends worth having. Live within your means; if you can afford that other stuff, then have a ball.
Splurging on something special every once in a while isn’t a problem; feeling the need to do it weekly when you know you don’t have the money is. You’re not always living for today; you’re also living for your future.
5. Elect people for the right reasons.
Yeah, we’re going there. Here’s the thing most people don’t understand about government; it’s a compromise, or at least it used to be. The reason things used to get accomplished in Washington is because no one got everything they want. Politicians used to be skilled negotiators, and when they were working for the common good they got some amazing things passed. Sometimes they did stupid stuff but you take the good with the bad.
If we elect someone that’s going to be inflexible, we start to find that it hurts everyone, including us eventually. Be big and mighty and say “see how brave our person is, standing there clogging everything up”? What happens when your area is hit with the next earthquake or other kind of natural disaster and there’s no federal relief money for it?
Let’s look at health care for a minute. Is the policy you’re paying almost $700 a month for actually giving you better care than a government sponsored insurance might give you? If you lose your job and can’t afford COBRA, or end up working for someone that doesn’t give you health care coverage, and then you or your family member gets sick, who do you think eventually ends up paying for that?
The government, that’s who. Or… with what’s going on now, maybe no one. There used to be a statistic that said 63% of people who apply for bankruptcy had a significant health care bill as part of their bills. Who thinks that’s going to get better without a good health care plan.
Think about taxes. No one wants to pay taxes until something bad happens. What most people don’t understand is if rich people pay fewer taxes, the rest of us are going to pay more or have less. Still, if that’s your issue then elect the person you want who will kill taxes or raise taxes based on what’s important to you and your life.
In other words, no matter how you vote, at least do some research on the position of the candidates rather than listening to what other people are saying. For instance, many communities in Kentucky after the presidential election in 2016 were saying almost immediately that they hoped health care wouldn’t be cut… with percentage numbers in the 70% range.
If you’re going to be for or against something, think about how you’d feel if it was you whose life is being negotiated; it could always be you. Elect people who have a position, but are willing to negotiate; it’s always better to get things done with a consensus, even if it’s not perfection. If you get what you don’t want later on, there’s no one to blame but us… all of us.