More Opinion by The Springboard

THE UPRISING OF THE AMERICAN PARTY "Clearly the voters are engaged right now, at least for sure on the republican side, and what they have concluded is that the republican party has not done their job. Thus, Donald Trump gets their vote."

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

NEXT VOTE UP BEFORE CONGRESS: KLEENEX OR PUFFS?

First we had the democrats crying over Rep. Wilson's "You lie!" shout-out during President Obama's speech before Congress, and now we have republicans crying over a comment made by Rep. Alan Grayson when he stated, "If you get sick, America, the republican health care plan is this: die quickly. That's right. The republican's want you to die quickly if you get sick."

Inarguably a deplorable statement, and of course the statement is untrue. I even think that, considering everything without bias, neither was Rep. Wilson's statement entirely true. But this really isn't my issue at all. My issue is why we're talking about comments? Where's the real health care debate?

And consider this; why aren't we talking about all of these frauds and loopholes we're supposedly going to uncover and tighten up that the dems and the president keep telling us is how they intend to pay for the bill? Wouldn't that be something to talk about?

The fact is that both sides have valid arguments for their cause. Both sides also have problems that need to be worked through. It would make absolutely no sense whatsoever to take the entire democrat plan and make it into law. But neither would it make any sense to take the entire republican plan and make it into law. We have two representative sides in our government who have been elected by the people to debate the issues concerning the American people honestly, openly, and respectfully. Somewhere down the middle is where the bill should end up. A compromise that takes the best points from both sides and combines them into a bill we can at least live with and maybe even pay for realistically is where we should end up.

The sad truth is that instead our elected officials in Congress are simply wasting time and a ton of the taxpayer's money bickering back and forth and drafting disapproval's for this comment and that comment that they don't like. Which means, maybe none of them have an idea truly worth considering. Which brings me to another thought and perhaps a brilliant idea.

Since you all in Congress have all of this free time on your hands to call each other names and draft bills to vote for disapproval of comments made by other members, how about reading the f-ing health care bill to start with!

Friday, September 25, 2009

PART ONE: BRINGING HOME THE BACON

THE LAW OF AVERAGES

Each and every second of our lives we are consumers. As the clock ticks away the seconds, minutes, and hours of the day an invisible average is being calculated and recalculated and recalculated again. A long time ago I started to call this my daily consumption rate. It's a number I know is there, even though I'd never, in a gazillion years, be able to have the know-how to actually calculate it. And quite frankly, I don't know why I would want to. That would make me a bit of an obsessive, compulsive, would it not? But just the knowing that it's there makes me more aware of the everyday consumption decisions I make that I know influence it. In many ways, the daily consumption rate is in fact a key element in all of my theories about saving money, and I will refer back to it often.

Basically, every time I flip on a light switch I'm consuming electricity. Every time I flush a toilet or turn on a faucet I'm consuming water. Every time I eat a sandwich I'm consuming bread, meat, and condiments. There's a cost attached to each and every one of these actions. It adds up to a dollar amount over the course of each day. Fractions of pennies over each and every second.

Of course, you're asking, so what exactly does that have to do with saving? Isn't daily consumption about spending?

Quite simply put; how you spend your money, but more importantly how you consume the items you buy with your spent money is directly related to how you will ultimately save your money.

As a rule, we are a terribly wasteful society. We throw away more useable stuff as a country than the rest of the world combined. I won't even begin to touch on how much food we throw away. But it says a lot about our way of thinking, and also serves to illustrate the cost of our prosperity as a nation. We've taken the opportunity of plentitude for granted, and we're quite literally tossing our money out with the garbage.

As an example, our nation's landfills are full of weeks worth of extra shampoo, toothpaste, and hand soap. We simply don't want to take the time to eke out just one more spat, or one more palmful. We simply squeeze the bottle or the tube and when nothing else comes out we decide that it must be empty. And it's not necessarily so. Turn the shampoo bottle upside down and the next day you'll get another palmful of the stuff to wash your hair. Take a scissors out and cut the toothpaste tube open and you'll get one or two more brushings out of it. Doing these kinds of things may seem petty, even ridiculous, but over time it really does add up to savings. Overall, it reduces the cost of the item you bought and that's money in the bank.

Just for fun let's break it down one step further for the purpose of illustrating my point; if I buy a 6 oz. tube of toothpaste for $2 and I get 24 brushings out of it (I have no idea how many brushings I get by the way, I'm not that anal retentive) assuming a quarter oz. per brushing, my daily cost is about .083 cents. If I cut open the tube and get just two more brushings out of it my daily cost is .076 cents.

I know, I know. It's a fraction of a cent that's been saved. And you're right, it's not going to make the difference between your driving a Cadillac vs. an Aveo. But think about it. You'll have to buy 15 tubes of toothpaste to my 14 for the year. That fraction has now become $2. Imagine if you applied this principle to every thing you consume in your daily life. In reality the savings do add up to quite a lot more than you think. And again, this is about a lifestyle. You have to be thinking about saving at every turn, and you have to be thinking about it in fractional terms if you really want to get the most out of it.

Little things count! And yes, getting every drop out of everything you buy and use counts. It's admittedly hilarious when you think to yourself, all this to save a friggin' penny? Believe me, I'm laughing too. It is funny. I laugh at myself all the time about it. But the reality is that there's more money in the law of averages than you think, and those pennies add up. All of these things are contributing to that average. To the daily consumption rate. What you do, or what you choose not to do makes things cost more or cost less.

Keep in mind that saving money is also about finding wasted money. Maybe you don't want to take your life to the extreme of cutting open toothpaste tubes, and that's fine. But just take the concept in mind, and see where you can best apply it to your own consumption habits. You will definitely save money.

READ PART TWO

Saturday, September 19, 2009

HOW TO BRING HOME THE BACON WITHOUT SLAUGHTERING THE PIG

INTRODUCTION

A few years ago I tossed around the idea of writing a book about saving money. I wanted to call it, "How to bring home the bacon without slaughtering the pig." What that title basically meant to me when I came up with it, was that the art of saving money is more than simply picking an amount out of your paycheck each week and deducting it. It's more than setting aside money for a 401k, or sinking money into a piece of real estate. It's more than opening up an investment account at a brokerage house. All good things, mind you, and they are essential to saving. But really, it's a lifestyle. Saving is something you have to do 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You need to be constantly aware of the process of saving.

Quite literally, you have to live to save, and saving, done properly, will allow you to work less and live better. You really can have your bacon, and more of it, without all the mess and hassle of the slaughter.

In this series of blogs I will outline what is my concept of saving money. I will pass on the tools of the trade, if you will, so that you can begin the process of having a more comfortable and secure lifestyle, better afford your toys, and quite frankly enjoy life more. What I hope to accomplish is to dispose of certain myths about saving. I want to change your way of thinking about what saving money really is. Most importantly I want to leave you with an understanding that saving money is enormously easier than most people think it is. Saving is far less daunting, and far less constricting than most people make it out to be. Saving is not about total sacrifice. It's not about living like a pauper. In fact, it's exactly the opposite. The less you save the more likely you'll end up sacrificing. Saving money is all about liberation and freedom.

Keep in mind that since this is not a book, these pieces may be a bit hodge-podge. It'll be part tips, part commentary, part discussion. It will be whatever it needs to be. My aim is to add to it each week, and I'll do the best I can to keep the train on a straight path. Perhaps in the end I can compile something more neatly. Along the way, feel free to ask questions, share concerns, disagree with any points, or offer interesting ways that you have found to get more out of your money and live an easier lifestyle. As this is my path, I'm all ears.

READ PART ONE

Monday, September 14, 2009

CRYBABY CONGRESS NEEDS TO GET BACK TO WORK

In my view, the situation that has arisen out of the Rep. Wilson shout-out, "You lie!" during President Obama's speech on health care before Congress last week is being blown way out of proportion. This is not to say that I think Rep. Wilson's comment was inaccurate. But it was certainly inappropriate, and I think he did the right thing to apologize to the president, even though he did seem to imply in his statement to the press that he had done it on the urging of the GOP leadership. Even still, he could have taken the urgings into consideration, politely said no, and went on with his business. The political consequences, whatever they may have been, would have been his to deal with in the aftermath. But now, democratic leaders want him to apologize before the House as well, something Rep. Wilson has firmly stated he will not do.

Naturally this is nothing more than an attempt by the dems to divert attention away from the real debate before the House and the Senate, and that's the whole health care issue. As far as anyone should be concerned, the issue should be done and over with. It's water over the dam. Rep. Wilson said he was sorry. He's taken his lumps. 'Nuff said.

But the dems wish to portray another "bad guy" republican. They want the American people to focus on this of all things. I also think it's a little bit shocking that they're actually spending time taking time to consider taking actions in the House against Wilson. All these important issues to work through, all this money being blown out the window that we don't have, wars and tensions between North Korea, Iran and other places that wish to kill us. Bombs being bought by Hugo Chavez thanks to loans from Russia. And here our politicians are, well...playing politics instead of getting the work of the people done. And somewhere in all this I'm certain the black caucus is considering labeling him a racist simply because his views differ from the president's views. We'll have to wait and see on that one. Perhaps Rev. Wright would like to weigh in?

What irks me more than the House's response, frankly, is the outcry among some Americans as to the terribleness (is that even a word?) of the whole thing. How could a sitting president be heckled by a congressman in the House of Representatives? Yet, and while I'll concede the circumstances were not exactly the same, the whole shoe throwing incident when it happened to former President Bush was met with applause. Americans seemed happy rather than mortified that a sitting American president on foreign soil had been so disrespected. Late night TV made jokes galore. Not so with the Rep. Wilson incident. But that's for another day.

All in all this is a dead issue, and I think Americans need to drop a note to Pelosi, Reid and the entire Congress frankly, "Enough playing games on our dime. It's time to get to work!"

Friday, September 4, 2009

SAVING FOR CONSUMER CONFIDENCE

It seems to me that we are too intently focused on credit as the great restorer of wealth and economic prowess in the world, and for that reason we're putting all this effort into jump starting the credit markets. Consumer confidence is quite literally measured by the ability of people to access money and use it to buy things, and of course, consumerism drives the American economy. But what good is it, I wonder, if the money that can be accessed isn't really there? That's what credit is, after all. The perception of money. And I wonder as well, how much would our economy have had to suffer in today's recession had people had real money in the bank with which to meet their obligations when the bottom fell out of the whole thing? How much real confidence would have been supported by real money. And furthermore, would we have even had a recession to speak of?

Borrowing isn't an entirely bad idea. But then, neither is saving. Obviously we can take both ideas to the extreme, citing the US American consumers' high debt numbers and Japan's excessive savings numbers. In both cases, economies have been harmed by too much of one thing. One word should apply here; balance. You have to have a balance between real wages, real money in the bank, and access to credit to leverage those wages and savings. And yes, somewhere in that scheme you need to be able to cover that leverage, and I'm not talking about covering that leverage with even more leverage.

If you've followed my blogs at all, you've of course noted that I strongly believe that credit has stifled wages for quite some time. The price of cars have gone up. The price of homes has gone up. Entertainment costs like movies and sporting events have gone up. There are probably more restaurants in this country than grocery stores and it certainly costs considerably more to eat out than it does to eat in. And most of this run up in prices has been driven by plastic. Plastic has made it possible to drag prices to the sky while having wages all but stand still. Plastic has also taken the idea of saving and tossed it right out the window. With mailboxes overflowing with offers of money, Americans felt pretty darn rich. Even the guy serving up the fries at the local McDonald's drove a Lexus.

In order to restore consumer confidence in America we have to restore the concept that saving for a rainy day is good, sound thinking. When you can wake up in the morning and see real money on a balance sheet in a bank account you can rest assured that if something bad happens tomorrow and the bottom drops out from under you, you can at the very least, get yourself up out of the hole. Especially in a case like now when the plastic money fairy is hiding behind a rock.

Of course, somewhere in all of this the money has to flow back to the consumer in the way of jobs. Good, solid wage paying jobs. And so the cycle goes.