A Sunny Transition and a Rainy Forecast
By: Patti Bankson
On Tuesday President and First Lady-elect, Barack and Michelle Obama met with President and Mrs. Bush at the Obama familyâ€™s soon-to-be new home, The White House. For all the contentious bickering that goes on in our elections, unlike a lot of other countries, our transition from one leader to a new one is impressively peaceful. In reporting on that meeting, the press used the word â€œGraciousâ€ a lot when referring to President and Mrs. Bush. Their tone often implied that itâ€™s a surprise.. The surprise to me is that they would think itâ€™s a surprise. Laura Bush is a class-act and always very gracious. President Bush, however you may feel about his politics or policies, is also very gracious. Just look back at all the names heâ€™s been called… stupid, Hitler, etc…. and he never responded or defended. Grace under fire. Gracious.
But, Graciousness is not whatâ€™s on my mind this week. Whatâ€™s on my mind is Money. Not who has it or who doesnâ€™t, but the mismanagement of money. Thatâ€™s really the problem, isnâ€™t it? Starting with the fact that to you and me, the word â€œBudgetâ€ means something completely different than it does to our government(s).
This is how WE budget (supposedly): We know we have X number of dollars coming in, and those dollars have to cover all our non-discretionary spending… mortgage (or rent), food, utilities, transportation, clothes, etc. If weâ€™re smart, our out-go doesnâ€™t exceed our income, and at the end of the month (or whatever the pay period) we have something left over. That â€œleft-overâ€ is what we get to spend for â€œfunâ€. But, only after putting some of it away for a rainy day.
Retailers make it seem so easy… â€œFor only $10 per month you can have your cake and eat it, tooâ€. â€œJust put it on your credit cardâ€. The credit card companies do their part… they give you the â€œPay full amountâ€ or â€œMake minimum paymentâ€ option. Etc. Before you know it, $10 here, minimum payment there, and Boom! A mushroom cloud of debt hovers over you, following you everywhere you go.
Banks and Mortgage companies (not you, C.D.M.) make it seem so easy. Why worry about buying a house you can actually pay for? Go for the no or low interest loan… and as a bonus, you can â€œownâ€ more home than you can actually afford… until the truth behind the â€œteaserâ€ hits you.
Then, thereâ€™s â€œBig Daddyâ€ government. Unfortunately for those who were looking to their leadership for… well, leadership, leadership canâ€™t balance their budget, either. And this is where we talk about the really big difference between how we budget and they budget: When they run out of money, they can (legally) print more. And big bonus for them: They have us. They can raise our taxes. They… Democrats and Republicans… promised us anything and everything, even when they knew itâ€™s immmpossible to actually deliver!
Remember that rainy day you were supposed to save up for? Well, itâ€™s raining. And the financial problem most people have right now is that thereâ€™s no room left on their credit cards to buy an umbrella.
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Â© 2008 Patti Bankson
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