There are many of you that will think this is a "softball" post; but I am still amazed at the number of my friends and family who simply don't know how close to the edge of the cliff we are. Perhaps it's that there are so many events that are capturing our attention -- the Russia/Ukraine crisis; the missing Malaysian flight; the 2014 mid-term elections; and the constant barrage of NSA-spying news, just to name a few. And that's if you are paying attention. But there are many among the millions of Americans who still don't have a clue about any of these topics and simply have their noses buried in their iphones, ipads or Facebook accounts.
I point this out because all of these distractions keep them from focusing on the elephant in the room -- all the warnings by economists, as well as national security experts, that we are on the verge of imminent collapse. And it is to these folks that this post is directed.
I know there are some who will think, "They have cried wolf too many times." But I would contend that while their timing may be off, their logic is not. Our government's spending is still out of control; we have lost status in the world due to our foreign policy; there is not a lot of faith in the U.S. dollar as the world's currency; foreign governments are moving into position to take down our economy, and there is not a lot we can do about it -- we don't have any counter-moves.
These are just a few of the obvious examples that our economy is not flourishing -- no matter what the latest press release from our elected officials tell us. We need to face it. Things are not getting better! More people are on food stamps than ever before. It really is true that the rich are getting richer and those of us in the middle class are sliding down the economic scale.
And this is not even considering the effect upon our economy should we suffer an attack upon our grid system or any other form of terroristic attack. We are hanging on by a thread, my friends, so it's time that we all get serious about taking care of ourselves. You know as well as I do, that we are able to provide for ourselves and our families better than any government institution. America, in it's federal form, may have fundamentally transformed, but there are individual Americans who still retain that spirit of independence, ingenuity and courage that saw our forefathers survive and thrive through adversity. Now it's our turn!
It's time that we get back to basics. Most of us, if we are honest with ourselves, have enjoyed advantages that our grandparents would consider luxuries. To be completely honest, I'm afraid that they would think we've grown negligent in minding the store and living within our means. So what are we to do about it? To me, it's obvious that we need to get real and evaluate exactly what is necessary to live prudently and frugally. Admit it. There are conveniences we can do without, and ways we can tighten our belts; ways we must change our lives in order to make it through the coming storm. Just consider these few options:
• Mortgage/Rent: Many Americans are struggling to pay their monthly mortgage. It is a huge part of our monthly budget, and with unemployment at record rates, bank foreclosures are running rampant. Refinancing or downsizing can help us get that expenditure under control, and save a lot of future heartache.
• Car payments: These days working families often need more than one car for transportation. But expensive new cars for every member of the family are only viable for the rich. Refinancing is also an option for this budget item, as well as getting rid of those oppressive loans by trading into older, less expensive models. And if you can become a one-car family, then the sacrifice will be worth it.
• Unnecessary indulgences: Do you really need that extraneous gym membership or that deluxe cable TV package? What about all those times you eat out, or the vacations that you can't really afford? What's your clothes budget? Think you can reduce it? And how much do you pay for those phone plans? Take a look at your checkbook. Other than food, shelter and transportation; where are your resources going?
You see, we are still living as if American prosperity is still alive and well. In the backs of our minds we know that all the signs are there for a downturn. Even our bottom lines are telling us that there are potholes on Easy Street, yet we're trying to pretend that it's smooth sailing.
I know I'm probably preaching to the choir --- in fact, I hope I am! Because if you haven't already considered these options, and many more beyond these basic ones, then I fear that you will have a hard time adapting to leaner times, let alone survive them. I know that sounds harsh, and to some it will sound extreme. But I believe we can no longer ignore the writing on the wall. These proposals for trimming your expenditures should already be on your "do to" list, and you should be looking towards long-term preparations for your family.
I sometimes assume that everyone is on the same level and in the same place that I am. If you are, then this post is just a friendly reminder to take another look at your strategy. And if you are still finding it difficult to give up those self-indulgences, and putting off ways to cut back, then let this be a wake-up call. It will soon be time to pay the piper. Get prepared!
1 Timothy 6:17 "As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy."