Monday, May 26, 2008

Recession Proof Living - Part 1

Life has changed forever, financially speaking. $2.00 a gallon gasoline (or milk, for that matter) is a thing of the past. With fuel at or near $4.00 a gallon and climbing, it's getting more and more expensive to produce and transport the goods and services we've all grown to rely on for daily life. Sooner or later, even mighty Wal-Mart will have to start raising prices or cutting profit margins. Neither option is good for stock prices, but that's another story for another day.

We already see the inflation in the grocery aisle. Milk is as dear as gasoline. Other dairy prices are rising right along side of milk. Canned goods have gone up. Fresh produce is nuts. Especially on items that are not locally in season and must be shipped in. Just a couple of days ago, B and I went to the grocery store to pick up a few last minute items for a Holiday dinner. One thing we wanted was a bell pepper. Brittan prefers colored ones to green, because they are sweeter and less bitter. I have a less discriminate palate.

Here in North Georgia, it's not quite sweet pepper season. So the beautiful specimens we see at Kroger, Publix, Wal-Mart, Ingles or Super Target are shipped in from other places, like California or Mexico. So getting them here is not an inexpensive proposition at $4.50 a gallon for diesel fuel. You can imagine the shock on our faces when we saw a price tag of $5.99 EACH for red or yellow bell peppers. We settled for green ones, which were $1.49 each. Five dollars and ninety nine cents for a single pepper. Are you listening? The train is off the track. The words of the old Larry Norman song flooded my mind, "Life was filled with guns and war, and everyone got trampled on the floor. I wish we'd all been ready. Children died, the days grew cold, a piece of bread could buy a bag of gold. I wish we'd all been ready......"

While the current world and economic climates may indeed be a sign that Jesus' return is near (which would be a good thing, from my perspective), it may be just a sign that we've been foolish in our management of resources, both natural and human. We become accustomed to having fresh (or canned or frozen) produce at our finger tips at incredibly low prices. We have been able to acquire larger house and multiply fuel inefficient motor vehicles due to low interest rates and easy credit. Oh, did I leave out things like unprecedented numbers of RVs, boats, personal water craft, snowmobiles, ATVs and the like. We have obtained the latest fashions and home accessories courtesy of Master Card, Visa, Discover and American Express. "Buy now, pay over time," has become a way of life more than a marketing slogan. But time has passed, now it's time to pay, and there's not enough money. Multiple millions of Americans are facing the "perfect financial storm" and are being swept away. They are losing their houses, their cars, their credit ratings and their self esteem. Marriages, already under enough stress are crumbling. Where do we turn for help? How do we get relief?

Most Americans appear to be looking to government to fix the problem and bail us out. I find that answer to be both tragic and laughable. It's tragic because it's irresponsible. We make a financial mess by living for today and not considering the big picture, then we expect the Govt. to save us from ourselves. I find it laughable, because Govt. can't fix anything. Anybody seen the national debt lately?

Over the next several weeks, we're going to uses this space to take a close look at how we can take responsibility for our own futures and make good financial decisions. There will be hundreds of practical ideas for saving and making money. We're going to do something really wacky. We're going to apply COMMON SENSE to our financial lives. Hey, nothing else has worked, why not give it a whirl?

Along the way, I fully intend to sound off on subjects like, debt, credit, dependence on government, the oil crisis and any other darned thing that strikes my fancy. All is not lost. The future does not have to be grim. There are good days ahead. Don't panic. Don't give up. I have a very positive outlook. I believe that if Americans take responsibility for our own lives and look to God for strength and wisdom that we will not only survive the current economic crisis, but we will thrive. I hope you'll stay tuned and travel with me.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Coming Attractions

This space has been quiet for a while, but we are working on a series of articles that will come from our next book, "Recession Proof Living". Hopefully, they will be helpful as well as teasers for the book.

I'll be honest, I'm behind schedule on the book. But, at least in part, I'm behind because I'm putting into practice some of my own suggestions. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Stay tuned.