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If you think this is about YOU, maybe you should go reconcile with your parent and work to get back your kids instead of continuing to be a jerk. If you think I am you, or similar to you, welcome! :-)

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Recycling An Old Recession

People over 50 have lived awhile. They aren't old, mind you, but they've been there a couple times, for a couple decades, and have picked up a few things along the way. 

One of those things happens to be recessionary behaviors. 

When some of us were younger, going to college, getting married and starting families, there was a recession. Another President of the United States gave the people no comfort,and another Congress voted laws they seemed to think would help, but caused problems in the long run. Inflation was rampant, and if you were lucky enough to obtain a 15% mortgage, you had a golden credit report.

Textbooks were expensive back then, things haven't changed that much. Feeding small children nutritionally well on a budget is still a challenge. Gas might not have been as expensive, but store owners rationed it so people wouldn't buy it up, and the price rose significantly in comparison.

How did people survive in the 1970s to live to tell about it? Let's recycle some old ideas from the 1970s and see if they still work:
  • HANG ONTO YOUR MONEY. Sounds simple, doesn't it? But if you're in a pinch, don't spend your money unless you must!  This applies especially to grandparents who suddenly find themselves with 3 or 4 small children on the front doorstep. With all the pain, you're going to be tempted to ease it through meals out, trips to amusements, and "little" things to help the kids out of their blues over their parents. You're going to need that money down the road. If you haven't learned how yet, teach yourself some self-discipline and just wait. Your grandkids need your time and attention, anyway, more than they need your wallet right now. You'll be happy you did when your attorney tells you his or her retainer.
  • BUDGET. A budget is NOT a corset from the 19th century designed to cut off your fiscal circulation! It's a plan on how to spend your money to your best advantage. All you have to do is figure out where each dollar has to go, and when, then follow through, first of the month, every month. There is no law against making adjustments as needed. 
  • YES, AN IRREGULAR INCOME CAN HAVE A BUDGET. Have an income that doesn't always come in you need it? Dave Ramsey says to have an emergency fund, and to still make up that budget. He also suggest starting your budget with the basics of housing, BASIC utilities (lights, natural gas, water, sewage- not cable, Internet and multiple cell phones) and food. He then suggest to decide the most important item to pay after those are  paid, working down the budget one item at a time. 
  • LOOK FOR HIDDEN COSTS AND SEE IF IT'S REALLY A BARGAIN. A lot of young people like rental centers. They get pretty furniture for which they only pay a little a week, along with appliances and computers. Their friends pay them compliments. Their friends don't see the payment that comes every week. Their friends don't see the fear when the really good job becomes a layoff, or a new mouth to feed adds an expense. Nobody pays attention to the fact that rental centers make all those goodies cost 300% more than what they are actually worth. It's a temptation to use rental centers to purchase long-term items needed in a hurry such as bed for the grandkids. Don't. There's no sin in sleeping on the couch or fold-out for a few weeks, or even months, until a better purchase can be made.    
  • IS THE BEST REALLY THE BEST BUY? IS THE ECONOMY ITEM REALLY AN ECONOMY? For food, simply divide the price by the number of servings or ounces in the product (Take a calculator to the store, or use the one on your cell phone). Don't buy food you can't store correctly, or that nobody likes. As for all other items, it might interest you to know that truly rich people don't buy all new, all the time. They buy used, but look for good shape and a brand name with a good reputation. 
  • IT'S A BAD TIME FOR CREDIT CARDS, LET ALONE PAYDAY LOAN STORES AND TITLE LOANS. Credit card companies are bad enough, with their cubicled collectors and representatives waiting to pounce on you like wild animals in the zoo. They seem tame enough but watch it when they are allowed out of their cages! As for payday and title loans- I didn't think much about it until somebody with our information, somebody who looked A LOT like me helped herself to a payday loan she didn't pay. Yes, that's identity theft and fraud. It took an attorney to convince the payday loan collector, who was one of the most obnoxious people I've ever met. As I investigated, I discovered these loans have an interest rate of 300-500% on average. Title loans have you paying car payments all over again, same high interest rates, and if you don't pay, I'm told they WILL take your car. Stay away from all credit right now. It's a bad time.     
  • PAYING CASH HAS ITS ADVANTAGES. Walk into the store with a credit card, or sign up for the easy 48 month payment plan. Hidden charges, not-so-hidden charges- They will follow you home and haunt you for months upon months. Walk into a store with cash. You have bargaining power! The store will not have to chase you should you not pay your monthly debt. If a store will not negotiate prices for cash customers, walk away and find another store. It's a ripoff joint.  
  • LOOK FOR NUTRITIONALLY DENSE FOODS WITH A LOWER COST THAT ARE GOOD FOR THE ENTIRE HOUSEHOLD. Bananas come to mind first. The only people I can't think could use a good banana are dialysis patients and others with poor kidney ability. High fiber, high vitamins and minerals, low cost, often on sale for 33-39 cents a pound around here. There are other foods. Whole grains. Legumes. Popcorn. Brown rice. BEEF (yes, beef). Get out there, investigate, and see what works for your family.
  • YOUR PERSONAL RECESSION MIGHT BE DURING AN ECONOMIC BOOM. One of our worst times came during 2005-2008, when everybody else was having a lovely time out there, financially. Hard times don't have to be during federal hard times. Like the scouts, be prepared! 

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