Country Living Series

Friday, March 27, 2020

Financial irresponsibility

Here's an opinion piece I found entitled "Coronavirus reveals financial irresponsibility of Americans" by a columnist named The text appears below in its entirety.

I'm not sure how I feel about this piece. It seems brutally unforgiving.

At the very bottom is a snippet from another article entitled "Coronavirus lockdowns expose the financial fragility of the modern American lifestyle" which is similarly unforgiving.

Thoughts?
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How long could you sustain your household if you were to stop earning income? If you are like most Americans, the answer is not for long. Only 40 percent of Americans can afford an unexpected $1,000 expense with their savings. In fact, nearly 80 percent of workers are living paycheck to paycheck. It is no surprise that the probability of an economic recession brought on by the coronavirus pandemic caused many to worry.

In major cities such as Boston, New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, restaurants and businesses have been ordered to close. For many hourly workers, this means no paychecks in the coming weeks. Almost one in five Americans have already lost their jobs or have reduced hours. At the same time, salaried workers are concerned about job security, as mass layoffs at numerous companies loom. While the situation is understandably stressful for every person affected, it serves as a sobering reminder that Americans must learn to live within their means and regularly save money.

The need for all Americans to be able to sustain themselves for at least a few months on savings is accentuated during a time of crisis. This means planning ahead when times are good. Financial planners suggest saving at least 20 percent of take home income, while spending at most 30 percent on discretionary items. Yet too many workers still fail to think twice about spending entire paychecks for things they want but do not need.

Recent decades have offered us relative luxury. More than 80 percent of Americans own smartphones. The same portion of households own one high definition flat screen television, while over half of households own more than one. Over 60 percent of Americans dine out at least once a week, while nearly 20 percent dine out three or more times a week.

The current panic is refocusing us on what is important. We now stockpile the things necessary for our health. Smartphones, fancy televisions, and restaurant meals are usually luxuries rather than necessities. Living within our means is not just rhetoric. It is a means of guarding ourselves during times like these. We have so much to learn from those who came before us. How many of our grandparents fared the austerity of the World Wars and the Great Depression, discovering to save, mend, and repair?

The availability of credit gave us an opportunity with a great hangover. It made nice homes, flashy cars, and expensive consumer products within reach for earners across income levels. But purchasing on installment is often a trap and a major contributor to our $14 trillion in consumer debt. Financing items as diverse as furniture, laptops, clothing, and more with easily obtained credit opened the door to fiscal recklessness. Consider that average Americans spend $800 monthly on car payments.

It is not only low income and middle income earners who blow through their paychecks every month. Many high income earners also live above their means. Indeed, at least a quarter of households making $150,000 and above live paycheck to paycheck. Our fiscal irresponsibility means that when an unexpected crisis like the one today hits, Americans are unable to sustain their own families, even for a short time period.

So politicians from both parties urge the federal government to step in and dole out checks to everyone across the country. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has announced that the administration wants to send checks to citizens totaling $1,200 per adult and $500 per child, with another round of assistance to follow if the pandemic continues.

While our leaders must act decisively in times of disaster, our own errors have made this situation untenable over the long run. On top of consumer debt, our government holds $23 trillion in national debt. A combination of stimulus checks, a potential recession, and new bureaucracies to oversee a recovery will further accelerate our rendezvous with financial default in the next generation. The money will eventually come due in the form of taxes, deferred payments for benefit programs, or outright inflation.

We each have a civic responsibility to our families and to our country. The more fiscal control we show at the kitchen table, the better our ability to handle the next crisis. A solid balance of fiscal government and personal finance courses at the high school level is a start. For most young people, however, true financial literacy is taught at home. We have a chance to show the next generation that saving is earning by another means.

I have hope during this crisis. It is a reminder, much like other traumatic events in history, of what is truly important. The survival and prosperity of our families is the key to our success. As the pandemic unfolds, the ability to budget, prioritize, and teach is our chance to make things better. Our grandparents suffered tremendously during the Great Depression. With the right attitude, we can teach our children how to prevent one.

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And here's the snippet from the article "Coronavirus lockdowns expose the financial fragility of the modern American lifestyle":

"These state-wide shutdowns have placed a tremendous amount of stress on most Americans, and while this is understandable, most Americans have never attempted to prepare for widespread disruptions to their way of life. Many have never had to prepare, never thought of preparing, were never trained to prepare, and were only told that prepping was needless 'fear-mongering.' With credit cards in hand and new age theories in their heads, many young Americans were taught that everything is awesome, that the government or the universe would take care of us all. Now, after two weeks of shutdown and mass layoffs, most Americans are begging the government for bailouts, as hyper-inflation, higher taxes, homelessness, and bankruptcy lingers on the horizon."

Both these articles seem extreme. I welcome readers' reactions.

38 comments:

  1. I think people facing what people are facing today, do not need such harsh words right now. I bought tp and gloves about three weeks before any mentioned the covid19 virus reaching us in the US. Then, each week, I bought more food and supplies to add to my stores.

    I once thought welfare recipients with a cell phone were extravagant. Then, a friend's daughter who seemed to have a different phone every few months told me people get new ones and give the old one to her. Some people get cells from Dollar General. Until I asked, I thought people were buying $900 phones. Some people are. Most are not.

    People with uncertain living arrangements always had a cell phone. All my GED students had cell phones, but I did not. Once I obtained a cell for business, I became old enough and disabled so I felt more secure with one.

    So, there are reasons people seem extravagant and people like me totally misunderstand. However, some purchases are beyond me. We bought a house when I was 22. We had no furniture and then bought new pieces of furniture one piece at a time. Young kids today want NEW stuff. Old furniture is my choice today.

    Yes, the articles do seem a bit extreme. Not all people are totally clueless. Maybe they know no better. That does not make them so bad or irresponsible.

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  2. I actually think the article was too soft! Indeed, I've seen many "Millennials" who say "Debt is just a part of life," take on debt, and then walk away from it, as if it was a video game they've tired of.

    I can understand people who say "We're just starting out, and there's too much month at the end of the money." Problem is, they're still in that spot twenty years later.

    Personal finance courses will never happen in high school. Financial prudence is exactly what's NOT wanted. What IS wanted is an army of young, impressionable, naive CONSUMERS who will pay for today with tomorrow. Hence... here we are...

    I often reference The Brady Bunch when discussing this kind of thing. There were six kids who shared two bedrooms. There was one car. There was one TV. ...And the father played the part of a successful architect who actually got jobs at the likes of Disneyland! The only tip-off to affluence was the maid, who never seemed to go home. Look at things now. Every kid MUST have his/her own bedroom. The driveway MUST accommodate all the family cars. There's a TV in just about every room in the house. Remember when a 19" TV was pretty much standard, and a 25" TV was the stuff of the rich? Nowadays a 55" TV is considered borderline poverty!

    Yeah; it's gone too far.

    As far as the people who didn't prep are concerned, I can honestly say "I tried to tell 'ya..."

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    Replies
    1. Keep in mind that during the Brady Bunch era, TVs and other consumer goods (appliances, etc, even phone service) were much, more expensive than they are today. Huge TVs cost a couple hundred dollars. A color TV 1970 cost $300 or $400 in 1970 dollars.

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    2. Yes and Americans paid in cash from savings as they continued paying the mortgage and saving for future expenses and retirement. Little welfare. Little debt. As for the Brady Bunch, what do young families watch today? And can you imagine them sitting in the living room together for the evening?
      Montana Guy

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  3. I believe most states with shutdowns are expediting unemployment and forgiving the 2 week waiting period. That means if you were working, you will still get some pay. If you were not working prior to the shutdown, why should you rcv. a bailout? Not negating that fact that so many folks spend on more than necessities so it's a consequence of one's own actions/decisions. Just seeing both sides of that coin.

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  4. My wife and I (both in our 70's) have always lived below our means. We both had very good jobs but other than a home mortgage have had no debt in over 20 years. My son not so much. We were both raised on Illinois farms with canning and other self sufficient work on going. I am disappointed in that at our advanced ages we can no longer do the things that we want to. I have guns and ammo, food and water, and medicare but can no longer garden or do many of those kinds of activities. My son and the ones younger than him are the ones that will be hurt.

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  5. Surely you jest. I have spend 30 years in the Military surplus/preparedness field. The people prepared for this were prepared for the last crisis and the one before that. Not knowing does not excuse bad behavior or poor decision making. It is the job of every adult to look around and develope some sense of responsibility to ones self and family. Even if mom and dad failed to do that job. I have helped families at every economic level to prepare through the years and money is NOT the primary difference between those who are ready and those who are not! The differences I see are a belief in something bigger than oneself, a desire to protect the family unit and a deep sense that community matters. Some people will perish from foolishness and shortsightedness but that cannot be helped. Continuing to bail those folks out time and time again only encourages more poor decison making and prolongs the inevitable at the expense of society as a whole.

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    1. Very well stated.

      Willful ignorance is a rebellion against God. 2 Peter 3:5

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  6. Brutally unforgiving ???? The truth usually is. If a person doesn't like the facts then change what is creating them. DJ

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  7. It's better to be the ant than the grasshopper. It also feels good and builds community bonds to help those in need.

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  8. Some people can learn these things fairly easily. I can learn from books, from teachers, from seeing other people's mistakes. Some people cannot. When I was in the military we would get a safety briefing every Friday focused on auto safety. Now decades later I can still hear and believe in those briefings. I have replaced the shingles on houses 3 times and each time I have said to myself and sometimes out loud each day "my job today is to not fall off the roof". I believe after this crisis is over that many people will learn from it but far more will not. It is human nature.

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  9. I don't think either of those articles were the slightest bit unforgiving. If people are living paycheck to paycheck, they need to change their lifestyle or their job. It's not rocket science. I've been prepping for 25 years, doing without and postponing the "average American" purchases in order to have a retirement account, savings to fall back on, and a 50 acre homestead to farm and hunt when it all blows up in our faces, as it inevitably does eventually. I resent the economically disastrous bailout plan that just passed. I despise how my tax dollars are going to people who choose to drink Starbucks every day, go out to dinner every week, have their nails done every month, and buy a new wardrobe every year, instead of saving even a 3 month backup fund. And don't even get me started on the porkbarrel ludicrousness. Why should I fund the Kennedy Center? A theater I will never attend? Why should I pay for artists whose "art" I would never purchase of my own free will? Why should my money be sent to Africa, instead of being available to me to choose who I want to help personally, with no overhead? Etc... I'm not forgiving about any of this, but those articles were just the facts.
    XaLynn

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  10. The allowance of debt drove the prices higher and higher yet only thus debtors are bailed out???

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  11. Unforgiving?? I think not, the articles are simply factual. Today people pay for everything with a credit card so they seem to not have any idea how much they are spending. That item that was a really good buy with a credit card and then months later with interest really costs more than they thought. If people all spent cash, it would be easier to see just how it goes. The old idea of putting in envelopes money for various items help people know just how much then can spend. Americans are truly spoiled and I hope that this little bump in the road helps put things in perspective. Then again it can be just a personality type, some of us are frugal and some feel status to spend.

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  12. I'm a parent of professionally trained kids who work in the gig economy. Salaries are ok but not great. Benefits are non existent and hours are always less than forty to avoid said benefits. Being sick means losing pay or carrying the sickness to work with you. Taking a day of rest the same. There are no savings vehicles as such and not alot of education even by me. My son, the manager of a restaurant would possibly make it a few weeks and a very small IRA. Snd he has no family to.support. my late husband and I were military and then started in the federal system at the very bottom. I cheapskated the hell out of everything but I would be lying if I didnt say that it was the health plan, holiday as nd sick days and 401k that put us in the right side financially as a mainly one income household with multiple kids. So I agree that many of those things are goals. But to have real saving or emergency funds there had to be more cash available than the emergency change jar.

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  13. I have a different viewpoint than some of your other readers. Yes, most people are unprepared for anything. But.........how many parents actually make a commitment to teach their children about thrift, living below your means, and saving money? I cannot name anyone in my current interaction of the last 25 years. It used to be a badge of honor for the older generation to make sure that children understood that you needed to buy a home-and a home that you could afford. Now? Grandma and Grandpa and the parents brag about Junior and the new wife going into debt for 4000 sft house with every luxury! Lisabeth is going off to college? Instead of suggesting Lisabeth help build her own tiny house, live frugally while going to school and working......mom and dad blithely write the checks for the dorm or an apartment. After all, she CAN'T work while going to school! When was the last time any parent suggested that their son/daughter go to college online, work, and live at home while paying a minimal stipend? Yeah..no one. We are reaping the rewards of foolishness, as exhibited by this latest coronavirus spending stimulus.
    -Stealth Spaniel

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  14. They don't seem too harsh to me--there's no gloating over the misfortune of those with tenuous finances. Echoing Steve above, a longtime tenet of my life has always been to live beneath my means, because I never know when my means will change. I saved money (not much) when I made far less, and it gave me the flexibility to get to where I am now.

    We're going to get through this--and the aftermath will probably go one of two ways: either people will realize that they can't count on smooth sailing all of the time and build some resiliency (savings, in both monetary and tangible forms), or they'll vote in someone who promises that they can act irresponsible and count on the government to bail them out.

    Hopefully people are also seeing that the latter course of action is not viable because no government can fix every problem every time.

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  15. The author, Kristin Tate speaks the truth. We have generations who have abandoned traditional values and work ethnics. Ask them, 'What are your goals and specifically what are you doing to reach them?' and you'll be looking at deer in the headlight. The 'American Dream' means nothing to them. Brandon Smith said it best that they squander their time and resources on 'frivolous pursuits'. I pray for the children depending on them for protection.
    Montana Guy

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  16. I agree 100% with these articles. We all have lived beyond our means...but in a country that has a problem with socialism and welfare...we are now going to be bailing out the biggest corporate welfare queens ever. They haven't learned.

    They are all against socialism....until they need it. These are companies that took the last bail- out and used it to do buy backs to shore up their own stock holders. This...instead of saving any of it for a rainy day like a pandemic. But true to form, they will be getting another bail-out again.

    Yes, we as Americans need to tighten our belts like our ancestors did in critical times...but the most aggressive of corporations need to stick to the very capitalism they always scream about.

    They too...need to sink or swim!! But they WILL have it both ways...and probably do it again! J.

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  17. Well I find them factual ..as we messed up big time in our 20's and learned the very hard way and NO ONE bailed us out ,,,30 years later we constantly find ourselves as the "bail out" for the extended family who has decided to keep right on living paycheck to paycheck , taking great pride in their stuff , and then they have come running to us when life sends them a bump in the road..reality is harsh ,,I don't know if it is " unforgiving" to point that out....

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  18. About 10 years ago there was an interview of a woman who was 100 years old at the time. The interviewer asked what the birthday girl felt what was the best and the least best inventions of her life. She replied the best was the microwave and the least best was the credit card.

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  19. I have mixed feelings about this article. In many ways she is not wrong. Far too many people live beyond their means and any hiccups or speed bumps quickly bring their house of cards down tumbling.

    However, many people that do practice frugality, keep debt low, invest in assets, save, and live moderate lifestyles are STILL being affected by this.

    For example, I have 2 rental properties and save almost all the income they generate after expenses. I thought this was a prudent strategy to build long term financial stability until my tenants informed me they couldn't pay rent this month and who knows when because they are out of work and I can't (not that I would) evict them.

    I also have my own business with no debt and it worked great at providing an income as long as my clients had businesses that were still running and weren't losing their own shirts trying to stay open.

    I see her point, but at the end of the day no matter how much you prepare sometimes world events become too much for even the most prudent among us.

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    1. I will be praying for you and your tenants. You are in a no win situation. God be with you.

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  20. I don't think that either article was to harsh, but some people here are judging others too harshly .Those that judge others do not know the circumstances that brought those people to not have a large emergency fund. I once thought that I was well prepared for retirement, 401k ,annuities , savings and house payments within my means . Life can change on a dime .Within a year I was fighting for my life while my husband divorced me.. I had to make a choice, to either fight for my life or fight him for what we had.I chose my life . Having to start over at the age of 50 , unable to work and living on SSD . It's been a struggle but by being careful and resourceful I have managed to buy a house , have no other debt and prep for times like these . I have a very small emergency fund that unfortunetely won't cover much .Living on $1,1358 a month with a morgage payment is a real challenge . Some times life gets in the way of all our best plans....please don't judge others until you have walked in there shoes .

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  21. A few yrs back, when the fed govt furloughed employees, and then there was a shutdown, my dh’s coworkers were flipping out. Most of his coworkers get a military retirement, their wives work, and then they make the same (good!) wage as my dh. We just have dh’s normal pay, and I stay home. So we looked at how to tighten our budget and how to plan meals based on our deep pantry and based on a very limited amt of $$ for fresh produce, some dairy, and toilet paper. I told dh we were going to be ok while losing $1200/month during the furloughs...still paying bills and eating during that time. But his coworkers, with an extra $80k-$120k a yr, were the ones freaking out! They have no margin in their budgets!!!

    And my parents...they seem to live as if the credit card bills will be null and void when they die, so why not max them out... They had the opportunity about 8-10 yrs ago to live a wee bit more frugal, and be able to pay off their house within a yr (while my mom still worked)...but they chose to spend freely, and once she was laid off and then retired, they still had large house payments. They redid their mortgage then for another 30 yrs at a lower rate and payment...and now in their 70’s, they are looking AGAIN to refinance their house... It would’ve been very nice to have entered retirement with no house payment... And maybe then they could’ve used some of their $$ to update things...

    Dh and I are looking to downsize in the next 10 yrs, and then him retire at age 57. We won’t be living on the high hog, and will need to be frugal, but then we can wander and travel and he won’t NEED to work in his high stress environment anymore. But we have made choices the past 10 yrs to allow us to move towards this goal. (Meanwhile at age 71, my dad still HAS to work, and when he “retires”, he will still HAVE to have a part time job...).

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  22. I find the article a statement of fact, not particularly harsh.

    The reality is that we have not trained our society to prepare for an incident like this. The assumption is always that the stores will be open, the groceries will arrive, and ultimately someone else will take care of you, even it is the government. In point of fact these things can fail at any time.

    True, not everyone can have 2 years of savings, but everyone should be able to have two weeks of supplies. It is more a choice of realizing that such things will not be the things we necessarily want, but the things we need.

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  23. People need to learn to save for a rainy day... this is the rainy day. I have very little empathy for someone who spends every last cent of their paycheck without regard to setting aside an emergency fund. As a landlord, I'm livid about the states going about making it impossible to evict someone for non-payment for the next x number of months. I believe it is up to me to decide how I want to help someone who has fallen on hard times. If states can mandate that tenants don't have to pay rent; do you think they will mandate that I don't have to pay a mortgage on that same house? Will they waive a few months of property tax? I think not. So because I've been careful and I have saved, I get to bear the load for people who eat out and don't plan for the possibility that something could go wrong. It is frustrating. I'm happy to work with a tenant going through a hardship; but that decision needs to be up to me.

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  24. I have never 'lived above my means'. When I bought a house, which I subsequently lost due to a a drug addicted husband, I made sure it was something that I could afford. I 'had' a retirement account that a subsequent job loss wipe out. I lived paycheck to paycheck before then, and still do. I didn't expect the drug addicted ex nor did I expect the subsequent job loss. So please don't be so judgemental. Some of us are not comfortable with or happy with being late on our rent or having to 'rob peter to pay paul' with the utilities every month. I expected to live like this when I was young and raising a family. I did not expect it to be my way of life in my 50s. We have cut expenses every way we can. Yes, I have a flat screen smart tv, but it was a garbage pick. My 'smart phone' is about 5 yrs old. DH still uses a flip phone. Our vehicles are old, but paid for and we maintain ourselves. Every time I get a little bit of an emergency fund built up, something happens to wipe it out (vehicle issues, etc). DH works construction, and gets laid off on a frequent basis. We get by just fine, we aren't eating steak and crab legs. Lordy, I would love some crab legs LOL!
    In the situation we are all in, my job is considered essential while DH is not So we are in another financial conundrum, not of our doing.
    I am not saying we haven't made mistakes, and not looking for sympathy. I am however, asking for empathy and less judgement.
    We have rented the same property for 15 years. We have only called the landlord once, to replace the hot water heater. We have maintained and improved this property as if it were our own. We've replaced stove, fridge, washer/dryer, dishwasher, all on our own dime. Our landlord has worked with us thru the down times. He wants to sell the house this spring. I will miss this home, but I think because of everything going on, we won't have to move as soon as expected. I was planning on mostly container gardening this year, but am now planning to plant in my inground garden I've worked over the years.
    Grammyprepper

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  25. Stop charging 1200 dollars a month for a hole in the wall apartment with no utilities included. Problem solved.

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    1. Depends on where you live. DD has a nice 2 bedroom, second floor, small balcony, laundry room in building with spacious heated garage. $650/month. Bedroom community to a state Capitol community in which she works.
      'J' - all excellent points in your post.

      Natokadn

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  26. Unforgiving? Meh...
    Ignorance in today's world is a CHOICE. They have more information at their fingertips than we ever dreamed up. I didn't even have a landline as a young adult in the 80's and I didn't need the government to tell me what to do.
    Voluntary victimhood.
    All five of my kids are still working. They are paying taxes because of their job choices (which were intentional) and not drawing unemployment, although the one in construction may soon be. Three for sure will not be laid off, and one may be if there is a huge transportation of goods slow down (he's a RR conductor). We were not supportive of childish dreams to be anything they wanted and balanced those ideas with a good dose of "as long as you can put food on the table with it and pay your own bills come heck or high water".
    When I sent out a text the third week of January as a heads up to them, they were already on it. I wasn't an extraordinary parent but my kids learned from the very beginning that "We don't have the money for that" did not mean we didn't have any money, but that it wasn't to be spent on things that were not needed. Christmas was for wants.
    I have pity on those who are in dire straits right now, I do. But far too many have no clue about the ant and the grasshopper and what it means. The grasshoppers are worried right now.

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  27. I did not find the articles unforgiving. I was helping people thru our church with food supplies. Then I received feedback that they wanted the food prepared for them so they did not need to plan a meal with a need or time for soaking beans overnight. I don't donate there anymore.

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  28. My husband made $70,000 a year. After taxes and insurance we brought home just under $50,000. He was let go in February. He now makes about a third of his old pay. I got a job last makiing $9 a hour. I will get 24 hours this week. We waited 17 years before buying a home. We have always paid our bills. Yes we chose to have 6 children. It looks like we will always be over a thousand dollars short each month. Husband got a second job also but due to corona virus only given a few hours each week. We have tried to what is right. It looks like after 24 years of marriage we are going to be worse off than we started. God is in control though. A little compassion goes a long way. Losing this job was a big eye opener. We saved when we could, tithed faithfully. Still, we are here. God forbid anyone goes through this as we are. I wouldn’t want this for anyone.

    -LSM

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  29. I think both articles ring true. Unfortunately I used to be one of those mindless consumers with large credit card debt and car payments until my husband experienced an unexpected illness and 3 months off of work. It took years but we dug ourselves out of debt and now have a modest emergency fund.
    JoAnna

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  30. Afraid I’m with the author of article. Plus my husband and I budget our household Dave Ramsey’ish. Bad days are here and worse days are coming, for a longish while. I need to review budget again, jettison and tighten.
    Am saving cash for the next vehicle...have the first $10K saved. Have 6 months emergency fund. Have a pantry to last a year plus. We have an affordable mortgage and no other debt. If my pension fund/monthly pension check goes belly up (I worked a mans job in water company and I’m a gal, and that meant shift work 12 hour days and a pension), I may be facing having to return to work, which means reactivating my Water Treatment-Water Distribution-Hydro Dam Operator certifications. I’m thinking about this and keeping it in my awareness.If I have to saddle up, so be it.
    Back here in Southern Utah, I’m surprised how many Mormons don’t practice self reliance nor staying out of debt. Heard an occasional neighbor say...will go to the Bishop and get the money. My own daughter’s family won’t eat leftovers. Did my best. A woman I know and her husband eat out almost every day at the buffet for his entertainment and they are on the edge. I like my neighbors, but the lack of self reliance here is worrisome. That recent swarm of earthquakes is my ancestors rolling and tossing around in their graves.--Range Front Fault

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  31. I am hearing over and over this is all God's plan and trust in God. Sigh. And I don't want to talk about or think about this mess, from my neighborhood women in Southern Utah. Look...God plays chess with us on a rare occasion. Trust in God...but tether your camel, or bring your tent stakes and tether down your tent. Trusting in God also includes actively building and tending your life. If you don't like your life, go out and make another one of your own. If we become a victim, we give up our agency. Would you treat your garden cavalierly?--Range Front Fault

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  32. I think the problem is they are one sided. Of course Americans could do better, I wish my family did better (though we are ok comparatively) but this shutdown is insane and totally without precedent. Somehow it's our fault that we, as Americans, the land of the free and the home of the brave, didn't prepare for our government to order us to stop working and stay inside our houses?

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  33. I agree with the articles. Sad but true, as truth so often is. For those of us that have prepped, it has been worth the effort. For those that haven't it isn't like nobody ever mentioned about being prepared. Even the loons that run California have been intelligent enough to tell everybody who doesn't have their heads in rectal defilade to make preparations for a disaster (tsunami, earthquake, etc.) by having at least two weeks worth of food, water, toilet paper, and first aid supplies. Anybody that has been a "grasshopper" in the face of that deserves no sympathy.

    Some commenters have pointed out that schools no longer teach practical math and practical science. This is true. Practical math used to be taught in 8th grade through High School, and included how to use a check book and even better, how to balance a check book and reconcile it. It also taught the basics of personal finance and house budgeting (home economics) with intros to Credit. Practical science was basically the things one finds in the Boy Scout Field Book. None of that is taught in schools these days, and hasn't been for over 30 years. The consequences? Well, just read the above articles.

    But here are two (2) things to consider: 1) hope you all remember the 1970s and 1980s. The Japanese were kicking out butts economically (mostly thanks to our communist owned State Department). Our masters, who we are never allowed to find fault with or criticize, pointed out that the main reason the Japanese were "beating us" economically was because the Japanese did NOT keep large inventories of supplies in stock, but used the "just in time" philosophy. Well, we are getting a real nice icewater reality enema right now about "just in time". How so? Well, if you notice, shelves are not being restocked. Shippers are not delivering full truckloads of re-supplies, and manufacturers aren't able to "gear up". Why? Because NOBODY has any inventory. Our masters, who we cannot criticize, made sure that American businesses immediately implemented "just in time" logistics by passing the Inventory Tax. This was a stiff tax and it forced companies, producers, manufacturers and others to cut inventories of materials to the bone. So, the result, after years of this "just in time" bs, is what we find ourselves with now: empty shelves that are NOT being restocked. This is also the reason that you can no longer find books written prior to 1955 in bookstores; books that were written long before political correctness became a censor of thought.

    2): we have a real shortage of housing in this Country, and often times what is available is far over priced and out of reach for ordinary wage earners. Nobody realizes that we have over 30 MILLION people living in this Country illegally, with another couple of million H-1bs taking jobs from American CITIZENS. Just think how housing prices would come down and more housing would be affordable and available to CITIZENS if our gubmunt would start deporting the illegals (including FAKE "refugees") and not rubberstamp renewing H-1bs so American CITIZENS could get jobs with "American" corporations.

    Well, just some rambling on the current situation......

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