Monday 26 Sep 2016

Free Money
Jennifer Flaten

Soon your mailbox may contain a check for up to $1,600. This is courtesy of the Federal Government. They want you to go out and spend, spend, spend that money.

Wait a gosh darn minute. Isn't wanton spending what got us into the current credit crisis? Now, the Government hopes that giving us money to spend will stimulate the economy. Well, what if you don't want to spend it? Will some nice Government official come to your house and make you spend it?

Americans are confirmed frivolous spenders. How many of them will take this windfall and instead of paying off that late credit card or back payment on the house, will use it to buy a big screen TV?

Having everyone go out and spend their money on new clothes, electronics or meals out will not help the manufacturing sector. It is doubtful that everyone going out and spending his or her tax rebate can really forestall the recession. Do we really want the recession stopped? For the past five years prices have been out of control. The housing market was the best example of this, but it was rampant in other areas.

When did people stop paying attention to the prices of everyday items? Look at what a gallon of milk costs these days $3.50 if not more, depending on where you live. A loaf of bread is $2.80, again depending on where you live. Gas is usually near $3.00 a gallon. . Bread a staple of life costs nearly as much as a gallon of gas. So basically a loaf of bread, a gallon of gas and a gallon of milk can set you back almost $10.00.

That is what a lot of people earn as an hourly wage. One hour of work equals those three items. What about the minimum wage worker, he only earns $5.85 hour. One hour of work for the minimum wage earner only gets him two of the three necessities.

Credit cards have made it to easy to ignore what items cost. When you have only a certain amount of cash to spend you need to be really careful. When you have a piece of plastic that contains a huge open spending line you can buy with impunity. Who cares that the trip to get groceries that cost $80 last month now costs $120, just charge it. This mentality of worry about it next month when the credit card bill comes is what got us into this mess.

Wants have turned into needs. People are willing to charge a meal at a fast food restaurant. That's right people are willing to pay interest on latte, or a hamburger and fries. Oh yes, they always claim they will pay the bill off in full each month, sure some people do. Most people however, carry a large balance.

People are no longer willing to wait and save for something. Layaway used to available everywhere. The stores took that away, when they realized they could make more money by letting people charge items. You would only put items in layaway that you knew you could pay for at the end of the layaway period. Now you can charge anything and worry about it later.

There is a sense of entitlement rampant in society lately. A new car is not something you get later in life after you are established at your profession. Now, it is something you are entitled to, simply because you graduated college, or high school even. People are no longer willing to wait, work and save for that better home. They want the biggest, the most luxurious right away.

Consumers want to point fingers at the banks and other lenders for this crisis, when who they really need to blame is themselves. Certainly, the banks need to take some of the blame, but it is the individual's responsibility to say no thank you to a loan that would take over 50% of their disposable income.

The tax rebate is nothing but quick fix, a way for everyone to feel momentarily better. Americans have proved time and time again that retail therapy is how they cope.

Jennifer Flaten lives where the local delicacy is fried cheese, Wisconsin. She writes about family life, its amusing or not so amusing moments. "At least it's not another article on global warming," she says. Jennifer bakes a mean banana bread and admits an unusual attraction to balloon animals and cup cakes. Busy preparing for the zombie apocalypse, she stills finds time to write "As I See It," her witty, too often true column. "My urge to write," says Jennifer, "is driven by my love of cupcakes, with sprinkles on top. Who wouldn't write for cupcakes, with sprinkles," she wonders.

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