Get On With It

For  months now I’ve been raving about the foolishness of central banks, politicians, bureaucrats and the crony-wins-all system. Without politicizing the argument, it’s clear that Trump’s success as a politician reflects a lot of anger over the stupidity conducted on (allegedly) our behalf.

But there’s really nothing any individual can do. To change any of that chicanery I mean. What we can do is to arrange our own affairs to make them as immune from problems as we can. Diversification, micro-entrepreneurship, saving, cashflow and financial independence: these are the ledges on which we can nest.

Selling and working, saving and investing, budgets and blueprints are my future. Yours too, perhaps.

Misery

So much misery. So much. And that’s in wealthy countries. I cannot imagine living in Sudan, where everything is going bad…or has already gone bad.

Our misery, our abundance misery, is entirely of our own making. Most people in the US make enough money. What that do not do is husband that money properly. The spending side of their lives does not remain less than their income side.

Every night and day here in what many would call a minor offshoot of paradise, I see poor, indigent, struggling people. And they’re all drinking convenience-store fizzy drinks, or smoking, or doing nothing at all when they should be working. These folks choose poorly, and so are poor.

My utopia is a place where people can make a living and not rely at all on the largesse of their neighbors. That largesse includes the awful re-distribution of my money that governments somehow feel is their bailiwick.

Yes. Genuine hardship unrelated to work and spending habits exist. They are more than adequately helped by private charities, and would be overwhelmed if the government removed itself from the business. In other words, an already generous nation would become more so if it didn’t have to support clowns in “departments”.

Becoming independent of charity, hand-outs, government “programs” and even the money from rich uncle Don is an aim we should all have.

Restraint. Self-control. Prioritization. Self-denial. Work. Budgeting. These are the methods by which anyone can avoid misery.

Frictionless

I know why.

I know why people are so poor at making and keeping budgets.

I also know why people are so poor at making and keeping budgets and, even when faced with the overwhelming need for both, do not.

Optimism. Compartmentalization. Laziness.

The act of creating a budget appears – to the newbie – as an act of failure. Either I’m not making enough money to pay all my bills on time and save something for later, or I’m hopeless at prioritizing my spending. Both can be internalized as personality defects, especially when we compare ourselves to others who appear to not have such character flaws.

The truth is that creating and sticking to a budget is an act of success. And we can remind ourselves of how successful we are every day, because we need use our money every day. When we spend money or receive money, we need to refer back to the budget, which can remind us of the power we have over our finances.

But it’s not a sexy message. It’s boring to even write about. Discipline usually is. What we need is a pathway to frictionless budgeting – budgeting that’s so easy that it appears to take no time or effort.

Meanwhile

At the other end of the money spectrum from central bank foolishness sits individual craziness. My work colleague Luis is as good an example as any.

Luis is the definition of “working poor”. He’s currently on a work routine of, oh, around seven nights a week at about ten or eleven hours per shift. That gets tiresome, fast. And yet he cannot seem to get ahead, for reasons that are so simple it’s not funny.

He has no budget. That’s a reason for his pauperism in one sentence. All actions subsequent (concomitant?) to that compound his problems. His wife gives money to her adult children because they, likewise, are discipline-free. This means that instead of setting an example, Luis and his wife commit another generation to sub-standard lives.

The pain I feel most is when I see him with fast-food containers: soda cups, the remains of meals eaten at home before I pick him up to take him to work. Fast food companies make their products to tempt with convenience, hiding behind words like “combo” and “value meal” to make you think you’re on to a deal.

No. Fast food is expensive. The problem is that it fills a need, but acts like a habit. Planning, buying and cooking for a week in advance would likely make the difference between the poor house and some independence for millions of people. Even in the USA.

Instead of writing a menu and buying what they need from the myriad of cheap grocery outlets (they’re at Sam’s Club all the time anyway) they live from day-to-day. Much, much to their cost.

And now to the repossessions. Luis’s credit is completely shot to the point where he can’t get a car at even the shady “buy here pay here” joints. His second-to-last car was totaled in an accident (not his fault) but there are still funds outstanding to a lender. The subsequent car was repossessed because of failure to pay.

The story goes on. The story will continue. My recipe is to start small. Make the budget. Stop the expensive food as step one. Go from there.

Oh. Did I tell you that this weekend past he used his mother-in-law’s credit to acquire an iPhone 6S+?

Yeah. Priorities.