Facing The Frustrating Realities With Which We Must Deal

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As you move away from financial irresponsibility and towards financial stability, you will find yourself becoming aware of certain new realities. First and foremost, you will note that the vast majority of Americans live without much regard for their own financial futures. Supported by a massive government that believes in handouts and bailouts, many folks have forgotten the idea of personal responsibility. Living well beyond their actual means, most have succumb to the pressure to have more, get more, and use more.

Ironically, instead of supporting those individuals who wish to save, our government promotes consumption. Instead of urging people to save for down payments (and thus prove financial maturity), our government promotes even-lower mortgage rates, swelling the supply of money and lowering the value of the dollar. Instead of honoring its budget, our government grows ever larger, competing with private enterprise, entrenching itself in every area of our lives.

We live in strange times, where people have ceded their liberty for (so-called) security. We have abandoned the ideas of frugality, simplicity, and prudence and replaced them with greed, consumption, and excess. I feel that we are moving towards a day of reckoning – A day when the spinning-plates of an ill-advised war, a convoluted tax structure, and a pseudo-stimulated economy shall come crashing down.

I wish that I knew all of the answers – but I’m just beginning to understand the questions. But, I do know this – Things feel uneasy. I talk to folks all the time – good, honest, hard working folks – and they are worried. Many (most?) are living paycheck-to-paycheck. Husbands and wives are working to provide for their families, but they feel overwhelmed. Burdened with the desire to provide bigger and better things for themselves and their children, but unaware of the methods for bringing about true prosperity, many are one misstep, one illness, one lost paycheck away from financial ruin. And so, they depend on credit and the promises of government, instead of their own ingenuity and abilities.

We must gather ourselves – and move in a different direction. We should demand fiscal responsibility – from our politicians, from the people with whom we invest our money, from the companies with which we do business – and from ourselves.

All true change begins at home. We must learn to live within our means. We must seek for opportunities to increase our income. We must teach out children about financial matters and we must talk with our spouses about money. And, above all, we must take personal responsibility for the financial decisions we make. Reversing our course may be difficult – but we must being to turn the wheel.

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Instead of blaming the rich, we should learn from them. Instead of criticizing profitable businesses, we should thank them for the jobs they provide. Instead of supporting failing policies and practices, we should encourage ingenuity and enterprise. Instead of borrowing from our enemies, we should trade with our friends. Instead of glorifying the excess of celebrity, we should applaud the wisdom of the millionaire-next-door. Instead of promoting laziness, we should reward hard work. Instead of doing what we’ve been doing – we should do something else.

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17 Responses to Facing The Frustrating Realities With Which We Must Deal

  1. Emily says:

    Amen! I couldn’t have said it better myself. I am extremely frustrated and disillusioned by our government and ashamed by America’s give-me give-me attitude. I think people are complacent and in a daze thinking that it will all work out. Well let me tell you, it won’t! People need to wake up, government needs transparency, businesses need to be held accountable, and people need to be accountable for their own actions. It feels like everything will be coming to a head very soon and the prospects are scary.

  2. Katie says:

    I agree completely. I really hope that this housing meltdown, etc. will teach everyone that we should take a step back and focus on fiscal responsibility. We all have so much we don’t need. The national savings rate is shameful. We need change.

  3. Abbie says:

    I love your posts but this is by far your best and most inspiring one. Thank you for your insight.

  4. Mary says:

    Thank you for this honest assessment of life in these United States. My family has worked very hard over the past 25 months to reach freedom from credit card debt that dates back 18 years. We are nearly there!! So I know the effort personal fiscal accountablilty takes. It is not easy – but it is worth every single step [and beans and rice dinner]. You have spoken well here. Thank you for your blog. Keep up the good work and the good writing.

  5. Mark says:

    It is so nice to see this brand of honesty on a blog. The rich got that way be playing by the money rules. We should model those aspects of their lives that serve us, and ignore the others.

    Think how different this country would be if Americans all followed your advice by first living with in their means, and second seeking valuable ways to increase their means!

    And think (gasp!) if the government practiced some financial responsibility, starting with ‘spend less than you earn’!

    Extremely good post. Thanks.

  6. angie baby says:

    Well done! I just came back from visiting at a client’s house in Beverly Hills where we were having a lengthy conversation about personal financial responsibility. What you wrote truly hits on the crux of the situation. It’s time the whole country wakes up – rich, poor, urban and rural – all of us………….. :)

  7. NCN says:

    Hey All – Thanks so much for the positive comments. I have much more to say about these subjects, so be sure to check back over the next few days/weeks.
    NCN

  8. Kate says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you! I work for a man who is a billionaire, and an entrepreneur, and he always touts the American entrepreneurial spirit and our ability to achieve anything in this country. He is correct — but I’m worried for the future. This man is 75 years old, and I’m afraid the America he knew has been supplanted by an America of lazy, Slurpee drinking, video-game-playing, gas guzzler-driving, designer-clothes-wearing, entitlement-happy greedmongers — who, while they are expecting all their “goodies,” in the next breath, whine about the need to “soak the rich!” We’re becoming so soft and victimized — I’m frightened for America’s future.

  9. boomie says:

    NCN,
    Welcome to the new America! It’s disgusting isn’t it? I’ve been debt free for 7+ years and all I met along the way were my friends and family who laughed at me and my husband. While we were building our home, without a mortgage, some friends would scoff at how hard DH and I were working. They kept telling us to take out a mortgage, borrow the money “Why suffer?”, they used to say. Now, who’s suffering? Not us.
    I just read yesterday that some financial institutions are giving out 401K debit cards. RETIREMENT DRAINING DEBIT CARDS! Since folks can’t get credit anymore, no more equity left in their homes, they can now swipe a card and withdraw funds out of their 401K’s and go buy that big screen TV. Or if they are having trouble paying their bills they can use the 401K debit card for that. Only thing is, it’s really a loan, has to be paid back immediately, so their paychecks get smaller. It’s a vicious cycle. When does it end?
    And what will happen to all these people who borrow and drain out their retirement 401K and retire? Suppose there is no social security to count on? What then? Will this government bail them out??????

    I see the same future as you do NCN: an eventual, complete collapse, the likes of which we have never seen before. Only those who live debt free and within their means will be spared.
    Yikes!

  10. escapee says:

    At the risk of sounding like an alarmist, I feel something bad coming too. I started feeling *really* uneasy at the end of last year and started saving like a madwoman. Like, NCN, my family has zero debt, so I feel like we can weather the possibly coming storm, but I feel very worried for everyone who won’t be able to.
    It’s clear that something is going to have to give, but what will it be and how will everyone cope?

  11. Can’t we both criticize big corporations (for promoting the unfeasible system of corporate welfare, for example) AND recognize their important role as employers? Can’t we both recognize the real achievements of the wealthy AND discuss the inequalities that are built into the playing field?

    I just don’t think it has to be black-or-white.

  12. Adfecto says:

    You make some valid points. However, there are a few things I really disagree with you about.

    You refer to all of the people today who are, “one misstep, one illness, one lost paycheck away from financial ruin,” as if this is a NEW thing. For the vast part of human history that precariousness of life and economic stability has been a part of the human condition. In fact, today a much smaller portion of the population lives this way than did those in all previous eras.

    Today if you get very sick you still have places you can go for food, shelter, medical care, and a minimal disability check to get by and that is a GOOD THING. In the past these people would have been casualties of natural selection. They would have died young and completely impoverished.

    You also rail against the, “handouts and bailouts,” but you must recognize that since the New Deal our country has experienced historical boom in standard of living, productivity, and economic might. By adding a system of safety nets our entrepreneurs are free to take the risks needed to build our society. If I thought that my family could go hungry if my business failed I would never invest.

    If the system gets tipped too far toward the rich there is often revolt and sometimes war. By giving a helping hand to those at the bottom you also pacify them. The TV makes the balance seem pretty tipped these days so why are we surprised when people start looking for a hand out.

    You are also binded by your bias against debt so you fail to recognize what an enabler it can be if used correctly. Our government can borrow at low rates from foreigners and use the money to fuel our very productive capitalistic society. Our economy churns out a much higher return on borrowed money than we pay in interest. The same is true for businesses and (some) individuals too.

    Yes, we have a problem with people miss allocating their resources to flat screen TVs when the should be buying healthy food, durable clothing, and investing for growth. But these people would not succeed in business or investing either. If they miss allocate their money to a flat screen do you think they can figure out how to create jobs or help our economy in any way other than working and spending? We have a class of peasants in America that work to spend and they won’t ever get with the program you espouse.

    I don’t blame you for being frustrated but I think we have reached a point in our society where the status quo seem more like an oligarchy. The masses want what everyone else has and it isn’t because of a lack of character, it is because of human nature. This same trend has played itself out dozens of times in history. Stop thinking of this as a weakness of those who are unsatisfied and instead start thinking about how to build them up.

    This turned into a rather long and disjoint comment. I hope it makes enough sense and maybe makes some people think. Thanks for reading and to NCN for starting the discussion.

  13. Bighonkin says:

    I know too well the frustrations of the people around me simply refusing to take financial responsibility. Trying to borrow their way out of debt, they have no idea that they’re nowhere near living the American Dream. In all honesty, it was NCN who prodded me to get to a place of financial responsibility and stability in my life, and I now try to do the same with those around me. We can take back this country. We can hold our politician’s responsible. If they refuse to be financially responsible, let’s fire them. Overall, though, this is going to be a grass roots movement and it starts in places like this.

  14. NCN says:

    Adfecto -
    Thanks for the considered comment -
    The debate about the role of government has been around since the (before) founding of our country, so, I’m pretty sure that my one post will not be able to ‘sum up’ all of the problems we face or the solutions we need. But, it seems obvious, that thet ‘safety net’ is unsustainable. At some point – when, I’m not sure – there will be more ‘users’ than there are ‘providers’. At that point, massive cuts will be need to be made – or, more than likely – massive tax hikes will be instituted. Those who save, live responsibly, and promote frugality will be ‘tapped’ to pay for the promises made by our government.
    As for my aversion to credit – I have no doubt that there are institutions and individuals who borrow and invest with great success – BUT, if they borrow and FAIL then THEY should have to deal with the consequences of their behavior. But, what happens when the government borrows and FAILS? Guess who has to pay for their failures? Bingo – folks like me and you.
    NCN

  15. NCN, not sure how I missed this post, other than I’ve been working the weekend again LOL I too feel a growing unease about the economy. The Fed seems obsessed with cutting the interest rate in hopes of keeping the stock markets propped up, yet I am feeling the pinch of inflation here. People saving money and living within our means seems to be the best way out of this economic malaise, yet the government is actively promoting the exact opposite. We are told we are supposed to spend our way out of this downturn, when what people should really be doing i s save up money and pay down debt.

    How many more credit “bombs” need to explode before the “conventional wisdom” finally changes?