Monday, December 08, 2008

The Foyer Class

Sunday, I had the privilege to attend the foyer class at church. To be in this class one is required to be too late to go to a regular class and too early for church. I frequently attend this class. I wish I could blame my tardiness on my children...they are always first up and first dressed. We never have to wait on them to go anywhere. It is all me, I keep doing "one more thing" until there isn't time to fix my hair or put on make-up. So then I am five minutes late with very little make-up and the usual hair.

Anyway, back to the class topic, which was...the economy. Actually, since the foyer class is mostly men who are motorheads, the subject was mostly the auto industry. We all voted that we would rather every American get $100,000 than the big three get one red cent. I don't know of anyone who thinks bailing out the auto companies will be anything but a very short-term fix-at best. My heart goes out to Michigan. I have not only compassion for Michigan, but I also have relatives in Michigan that I love dearly, a lot of relatives. It is very depressing, the state of that state. However, this is nothing new to Michigan. The auto industry bailed on them a long time ago by shipping most of the work to other countries. Why should any of us want to help the auto industry when they have hurt our economy so much?? AND don't even get me started on how much I DESPISE the greed and corruption of the United Auto Workers. Job bank, my foot. That is the most despicable thing I have ever heard of. That is almost as bad as the stories my dad use to tell about how no one could start working until the guy whose job it was to start all the machinery got there. That is the union gone too far. (Unions were not the topic in the foyer class.)

Sorry, I digress. The bigger picture of our economy, in my humble opinion, is that we have all been living a lifestyle that we cannot afford. Now comes the time where we pay the piper. We have to now do without, scrimp and save and pay off debt. So many Americans live so far beyond their means that they will be paring way back. Is anyone really surprised that Americans will have to cut back??

Let's look at a typical family. The Joneses. (My info for these amounts are loosely from Wikipedia. While not the figure exactly, 52,000 is an easy number to figure with.)

The Joneses make $52,000 a year. This means $1000 per week which looks more like $760 after taxes and other nonsense. This means roughly $3040 per month of actual bring-home money. Their house payment is $1400. A car payment of $400 per month.(Most families have 2) Two credit card payments of $50 per card per month. (This is such a low credit card estimate for our fictitious family as most Americans have between $8-9000 in credit card yearly balances!) This is a family of four and they all HAVE to have a cell phone, let's be very modest and say they are only paying $100 per month for this.(unlimited texting is a must have!) That leaves a whopping $1040 for food(most Americans eat out AT LEAST twice a week), utilities, and any other incidentals. That is SOOOOOOOOOO NOT ENOUGH TO SUPPORT THIS FAMILY. And yet, I know way too many people swimming in this debt river. It is so hard to refuse easy credit and "stuff" I "deserve" for working so hard.

So eventually, the Joneses outspend what they can afford, Dad gets a pay cut, they need a new roof, someone gets really sick, they get sued OR all of those. Changes have to be made in lifestyle sooner or later. This generation wants it ALL now.

The Joneses are what is wrong with our economy. This just cannot continue. America cannot continue to spend more than it makes forever. The day of reckoning seems to be NOW.

Hubs and I are not debt free but we are working toward it. I should say we are limping toward it because we made alot of unwise decisions in the beginning of our adulthoods-both separately and as a couple. We have been swimming upriver-against the "lure of credit" for a long time. AND, we have very little extra at the end of any given month. We shudder to think what a $1400 house payment or two car payments would feel like. We live very frugally compared to most nowadays but very extravagantly compared to the way he and I grew up. You know, the good old days when easy credit did not exist. When buying a house or car meant saving up not borrowing.

Those were the good old days.

Ahhh, the foyer class is very thought provoking.

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