A good friend from church recently passed along to me an interesting publication. Knowing that I am always interested in all things personal finance, I appreciate this friend thinking of me and passing along the publication. I won’t share what publication it was but its thoughts and viewpoints emphasized something that I am going to delve into today.
At first glance the objectivist in me jumped out and said, “Stop reading this socialist propaganda! IMMEDIATELY!” But I respect this friend and actually am inspired by this person’s genuine care and concern for others, on an individual level as well as societal, so I read through the publication with an open mind and heart. What I began to see is that there are many people within my own city that are hurting.
They let loan providers teach them about student loans, they let workers’ unions teach them about “fair wages” instead of living below their means, they let mortgage lenders teach them about borrowing to pay for their homes and they let credit card issuers educate them about responsible buying habits.
The result is exactly what we have been aiming for. The Wall Street Journal reported that 70% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. So on a mass scale when a recession has hit us like it has over the past five years (depression anyone??) it should not come as a surprise that when the national unemployment percentages slightly rise along with the price of gasoline that we as a people are unprepared to weather the storm.
With debt hanging over our heads, inadequate liquid emergency savings and steady retirement contributions not being made consistently during our working lifetimes, we the people are not being fiscally responsible on a personal level. One aspect that troubled me from the periodical is that the result of my country’s extended recession, is that a small segment of my fellow Chicagoans are using this time of learning to instead launch an all out assault on capitalism.
Now while I could write a thesis hundreds of pages in length defending capitalism, for this space I will restrain myself to a paragraph. Capitalism, at its core is about bringing a product and/or service to the marketplace and being compensated according to a fair market value. For my employer I provide my services and skills to fill a need they have. In return they pay me tokens of appreciation called a salary. Over the past five years, with that salary, I have become debt free, regularly contribute towards retirement, have a 6 month liquid emergency fund and have insurances in place to protect myself and my family from catastrophe without help from our inept government. Between myself and my employer exists a mutually beneficial relationship. If my employer found my work to be sub-par or no longer economically viable to employ my area of expertise, they would fire me. If I felt my employer were paying me an unfair wage, I would fire them.
Now look, if you are hurting financially I am not mad at you. I want to inspire you to pull yourself up, bootstrap and show you that you can thrive economically regardless of your household income amount. But to those that condemn the very system that presents an opportunity to climb and ascend the socio-economic ladder, all I can do is shake my damn head in disappointment. This is the greatest land the world where opportunity abounds in every direction. No it’s not easy to work like an animal at a few different jobs you’d rather not do and scrimp and save as you budget for the first time, work your debt snowball and build up savings just for emergencies. But the financial foundation that comes from sound planning and thorough execution is the most rewarding when it comes to finding your own financial peace. But until you stand up and become intentional with your money, the lack of it will always haunt you like a curse.