Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Two Things

People are losing their jobs at a shitdamnmotherfucking insane rate. I am reading the reports of these job losses and I cannot help but wonder if the numbers are a result of the various media organizations failing to properly proof their stories, resulting in a few too many zeros in the job loss numbers.

I know this is not so. But allow me to dream for a moment.

An interesting article was recently posted on BIG NAME NEWS ORGANIZATION FINANCIAL WEBSITE hypothesizing that large job losses aren't going to help THE ECONOMY rebound. Sometimes it's necessary to publish information that overstates the obvious. I'm certain that my posts here would also fall into that obvious overstatement category.

But I do not think that corporate executives are going to read this or similarly situated articles and have any sort of epiphany and revoke the tens of thousands of pink slips that have already been distributed.

I don't any answers for the folks that are unemployed. I can only hope that I do not join their club any time soon.

I will say that for those of us who are currently still employed it is more important than ever to do two things. 1. Keep your job. 2. Save save save.

I am not going to pontificate on the subject of how to keep your job in this post. I know you are all disappointed at this, because I know how much you all love to read my pages and pages of pontifications. Perhaps I will devote another post to this topic in the near future. But you should know that it shouldn't be difficult to lose your job if you've decided that you'd really rather be unemployed.

Now is the time to work harder and ask for less. Everyone needs to become the model employee. Stop surfing the internet. Stop the personal phone calls on company time. Find more work if you don't have enough to do. Offer to help with anything that needs doing. Work a few extra hours on your own time if need be. And STOP COMPLAINING AT WORK.

If you are actually successful in keeping you job and your hours aren't cut in half, the next thing you need to do is "save save save" and I really mean it. Saving money can be an intimidating idea for some folks. Perhaps you think it can't be done. Many of us are spread far too thin financially. That's also a topic for another post. But the first thing you need to know about saving is that it's never too little or too late. Every journey toward a solid savings begins with the saving of a single cent.


I have discovered that the only real way to know where you can cut expenses and what you can reasonably save is to document every cent you spend for a few months. You can do this the old fashioned way with pen and paper or you can get high tech about it and use one of the many free online programs to help you out. I've checked a few of them out and my personal favorite is Yodlee, because I think it's the most comprehensive. It's not pretty. It's not flashy. But it works well. However, you should decide what works best for your individual needs.

It is often surprising to find out how much is really being spent on groceries or dining out or toiletries or entertainment. You MUST MUST MUST track these things to the freakin' penny for at least several months to know what's really happening with your finances. You must be honest with yourself and your spending habits. These internet based programs will enable you to create a budget and they will let you know how well you're doing at meeting those budget goals. Review the tracking information to get a better sense of your finances and to determine what you might be able to save. How to save. Where to save. And how much to save are all topics for yet another post.

I guess I had better get to work writing. The rest of you better get started on your homework!

Thursday, January 08, 2009

The Econopocalype

Everyone is talking about "the economy" and what a mess everything is right now with it. "It" meaning, "the economy" which is indeed, pretty shitdamnmotherfucking fucked up at the moment. I don't need to re-hash the statistics here. Every media venue has posted and is continuing to post fucked economy related information.

I have been watching things closely. And I have been thinking a lot about money.

For those of you who know me, it will come as no surprise that I have been thinking a lot about money. I tend to think about money. And I tend to do it a lot. My father lived through the depression and my mother, twenty-five years his junior, lived during a war in her native county. Living frugally was the norm. But I have discovered over the years that frugal living was not the norm for many of my peers. I have also discovered that many of my peers have no knowledge about how to manage their own finances.

And when I say "no knowledge" I mean nothing, nada, zip, ziltch, zero. Maybe they think they do, but they don't. Not one bit.

Maybe that's how we got into this "economy" mess. "We" don't talk about money. Not really. Not in any significant way. We don't talk about how much money we have or what we do with our money. It's considered rude to ask someone how much money they make. Why? Seriously?

Most people have no clue what to do with their money. And it's no big surprise. There is a wealth of information available from a variety of sources, but it is often contradictory. In other words, financial information, like all information, is mediated through individuals that do or do not benefit in some way from providing the information.

I think that it's time that people begin to take responsibility and accountability for their lives and their happiness. And I think it's time for a return to frugal values. There are many individuals living well below the poverty level that are struggling to eat every day. Those folks need real, substantial, significant help to improve their lives. For the most part, I'm not really talking about those folks. At least, not yet. I'm talking about the folks that may not have much, but should have enough. I'm talking about people who could be making better choices.

I believe that it's time to start speaking openly and honestly about money. We live with a sense of the false dichotomy of instant v. delayed gratification. I don't think it has to be one or the other. Ultimately, I think we've lost focus on what's important and I think the only way things are really going to change is if we shift that focus.

This is the first in what I hope will be a series of posts by me about my thoughts, feelings, meanderings, and experiences on this topic. I hope for this venue to become a space for an ongoing dialogue and a sharing of information. Please keep in mind that I will be moderating all posts. In other words, no ass clown spammers please!