Another year older…


And no deeper in debt!

debt

This month marks yet another birthday, my 48th so far. As this blog is dedicated to my Grandmother, I thought I would use the occasion to share with all of you the best advice she ever gave me. Many moons ago, when I was in my teen years, my Grandmother told me about the importance of staying out of debt. Her exact words were, “If you can’t afford it, don’t buy it.” As my Grandmother was a successful woman in her own right, I took those words to heart and I am grateful to her for explaining to me what none of my teachers ever did… that debt can ruin your life. In this age of everything on credit, I am one of a very few who actually has no debt. No student loans, no car loan, no mortgage… I don’t even owe 20 bucks to a friend. The only debt I owe is to my Grandmother for her sage advice.

I never understood why, in high school where we are supposed to be preparing for life, there was no course about finances. That’s the kind of math all of us can actually use. There does seem to be a backlash to all of this credit/debt mess into which we have collectively gotten ourselves. People like Suze Orman and Gail Vaz Oxlade have made a very nice living teaching others what we should already know, how to get out and stay out of debt.

Gail

Perhaps parents should be teaching the next generation not to fall into the same traps as we did. Or even more importantly, get more involved with school curriculum and demand a class on money management. I have seen too many smart people lose everything because a bubble burst (housing, stock market, banks, internet companies etc.) You want your kids to be successful in life, so you make sure they get the best education that your credit score can afford, but send them out into the world entirely unprepared when it comes to handling all the money they will be making from that high paying job they will hopefully get with their fancy degree.

dirtyjobs

Last night on Real Time With Bill Maher, Mike Rowe (host of a show called Dirty Jobs on the Discovery Channel) was talking about how there are 3 million high paying jobs that companies are desperate to fill in the United States, but nobody wants to do them. This is systemic of another problem facing the next generation of kids today. The idea that everyone is special and that everyone can be rich and famous. Kids brought up on reality television have been bombarded with the message that the only way to succeed in life is to be on TV so they get student loans and pursue a liberal arts degree. Meanwhile, there is a severe shortage of plumbers, mechanics and other blue-collar workers who could be making real money (over $100,000/year) if they weren’t so concerned with being ordinary or getting a little dirty.

It’s important to remember that, everyone is not special… to be special by definition is to be distinguished or different from what is ordinary or usual. There is no shame in being ordinary. There is only shame in drowning in debt while waiting for the world to notice that you are special.

** Note, the links were not provided by me, but were automatically generated and I do not endorse them.

 

 

Government money is YOUR money


 

 

I will never understand how, in a democratic country, people can think of the government as a separate entity. The government is made up of people that YOU elect to serve YOUR  best interests. The money they make is the money YOU pay in taxes. The money they spend is the money YOU pay in taxes.

In the United States, there is an entire party (the Republican Party) running on the idea of never, ever raising taxes for anything, ever again. What I don’t understand is, how do they expect the government to pay for things like medicare, the military, social security and their own salaries without tax money. The government is funded by tax money and tax money alone. People seem to want everything paid for by “the government” like that money doesn’t come out of the pockets of everyone living in that country. Even people who are too poor to pay income tax, are paying into the system through taxes on goods and services.

In countries like Denmark, Switzerland, Sweden and even Canada taxes are higher, but you get what you pay for.  Yes, if you live in these countries, you will pay more in taxes, but the people who live in these countries are happier.

Recently, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development put put their annual report on life satisfaction in the developed world. They put out a list of the top ten happiest countries based on the following criteria: housing, income, jobs, community, education, the environment, civic engagement, health, life satisfaction, safety and work-life balance. There are many things the top ten countries have in common, but the one thing they all share is a higher tax rate than is enjoyed in the United States. So yes, Republicans, it is possible to pay more taxes and be happy… or HAPPIER even, as long as those taxes are spent on things that the people who elected you actually want, like better healthcare, more affordable education and jobs, not another needless war.

My advice to the American people is to look outside your own country for a split second to some of the countries on this list and find out why they are so happy. See what is working for them and perhaps suggest to your government representative that they try some of these things out. After all the government is YOU and YOUR tax dollars. If you don’t stand up and tell them what you want that money spent on, make them accountable, you will continue to get what you’ve been getting… a government who has forgotten who they work for.

If you are interested in reading more about the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s report, you can do so here http://247wallst.com/2012/05/22/the-happiest-countries-in-the-world-2/2/ or in slideshow format, here http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/articles/344450/20120523/top-ten-happiest-countries-world-2012.htm#page1

What’s stopping you?


 

 

The Occupy Movement seems to have spawned an odd backlash from rich people who are saying they want to be taxed more. In the United States both Warren Buffet http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-20092380-503544.html and Bill Gates http://www.mediaite.com/online/bill-gates-endorses-raising-taxes-on-the-rich-thats-just-justice/ have made this claim publicly. In Canada, last week, a group of doctors is saying the same thing http://ca.news.yahoo.com/mds-propose-tax-increases-wealthiest-canadians-starting-100-040307538.html

While I think that it’s great that there are rich people who are on board with paying higher taxes, what I wonder is…

WHAT’S STOPPING YOU?

What’s stopping you from writing an additional cheque to the government above and beyond your current tax payment along with a note stating that this is an additional tax payment because I am rich and feel that I should be paying more? Or even go one further and let the government know what you would like this additional cheque to go towards, like healthcare, the deficit, defense etc.

I can’t imagine that either government would turn down the extra cash and you could be proactive instead of just complaining that you’re not currently paying enough.

It’s all well and good to propose tax plans for yourself and your cronies when you know that your government likely won’t take you up on your offer, but why not put your money where your mouth is? Sure, the publicity your getting now is creating some good will, but imagine what kind of good will actually doing something would create.

Is it just me?


As an outsider watching the Republican race for the nomination, I can’t help but think that the Republicans don’t want to win the presidency this term. After all, the country is still in an economic quagmire  (not the funny Family Guy kind of Quagmire) and why would they want to inherit that mess? It’s too soon to be able to blame it all on Obama. People still remember that it was George W. Bush that handed Obama the economic train wreck in the first place, after being given the biggest economic surplus in the history of the country by Clinton. Historically it seems that the Republicans like to run the country into the ground, then the Democrats patch it up as best they can for a term or two, then pass it back to the Republicans to break again. This chart shows that the Democrats outperform the Republicans when it comes to the economy. http://www.eriposte.com/economy/other/demovsrep.htm

 The Republicans in this race seem to be doing an ‘I don’t want the nomination’ dance. From the very beginning when there were ten people vying for the title. It seemed to me that every time a new candidate became the front runner they would say or do something so outlandish that they would fall by the wayside within a week. Now it’s down to four, possibly five, if you believe that Sarah Palin has a secret plot afoot http://www.huffingtonpost.com/geoffrey-dunn/sarah-palin-2012_b_1351763.html

Arguably, none of the remaining four men have much of a chance at winning the presidency back from Obama if they keep inserting their feet firmly into their mouths as they have been. The Republicans, as a whole, are alienating their female supporters right out of the party with all of this backward talk of contraception and abortion. Issues that had been settled 39 years ago when Roe vs. Wade was decided. However, according to this video, at least, there are many Americans who are voting faith over issues that directly concern them like the economy. It’s shocking that in the poorest state of the union, people would rather starve than elect Obama again.
Rick Santorum recently stated that Obama was a snob for wanting people to attend college and he’s winning in the southern states.
Santorum came out against higher education and women and is still winning the support of entire states. The scary thing here is that he could actually beat Obama if the people who vote faith vote in higher numbers that the people who vote issues. Not to mention the flames of racism that still run rampant through the country that are being fanned by conservative pundits like Rush Limbaugh and the fine folks at FOX news. Illustrated by this bumper sticker.
The Republicans like to divide and conquer. This attitude has served them well, historically but it will be severely tested if Romney wins the nomination. Who will the Christian right vote for without a horse in the race, the Mormon or the ‘Muslim’? Romney has been so transparent in his pandering that he has very little chance of a presidential win, but stranger things have happened.
It’s hard to think that a win is the real goal this election with the crazy dog and pony show the Republicans have been putting on, but, they may just be crazy like the proverbial fox and incite their base into voting en mass. So I guess my real point is…
Dear America,
If you want to be taken seriously, vote issues, not faith and please vote for the one person that will least embarrass you on the world stage.
From a concerned Canadian.