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Thursday, April 28, 2016

We've Got to Start Talking About Money

You May Be More Financially Secure than This Successful Author, Script Writer - 

Who Can Never, Ever, Stop Working

This Atlantic Magazine story , the Secret Shame of Many Middle Americans, outlines the story of a prosperous looking author and script writer, who can't find $400 to cover an emergency and will have to work the rest of his life to cover his debts.  

It's also about the shame and realities embedded in our US middle class money mess.  As the author pointed out --  50% of Americans, can never stop working.
Neal Gabler isn't homeless, or a casino gambler or a criminal.  His life looks like a dream come true.  
Gabler has written and published books. 
  • Gabler has been paid to critique movies on television.
  • He is a great Dad with successful children.  A great husband. 
  • He is so well-known in his industry that he was paid to write a movie script. 
His reality-money-show reveals a different backstory, though.  

Because he made a series of understandable and common money mistakes that caused a great deal of debt, Gabler suspects he will be working every day of his life, Monday-Sunday, sun up to sun down, until he just can't work anymore.  

Some of the blame for this sad situation falls to our economy and our "head up the behind" (as they say in the south) denial of stagnating wages and other US economic realities.  

We are not recognizing, accepting or dealing with the bad news that the middle class is shrinking and the economic cards really are stacked to help those who live off dividends and investments.   
  • Yes, the rich are getting richer.  
  • Yes, our tax code is partly to blame. 
  • Yes, your congressmen and women are not helping you, in most cases.
But some of the blame lies with Gabler's refusal to educate himself about money.  It's not always fun.

This blog is designed to help and inspire those who want to get educated and to show them how it can be a blast of achievement, pride and satisfaction.  But it's still tedious at times.   

You have to take your "head out of our behind" as we also say here and deal with some sobering news about money.  

Good for you for "dealing with it."

By getting a little more frugal in your habits, you are beating a system that is rigged in someone else's favor.

By consuming less, you are saving on sales taxes, you are building a safety valve for the inevitable bumps in the money road and you are beating a system that really is rigged against you. 

Unless you think you can lobby Congress, change the tax code and fight Wall Street's sometimes shameful practices of crazy financial product development (i.e., mortgage securities that go bust),  going at least a little more frugal is the best step you can take.     

Of course, there will be months when it sucks.  Or when you make mistakes.  (I'm pointing the finger at myself here) --  I spent an extra $1k on travel and gifts this last April.  Two weddings.  Pretty spring days.  There it went.

But I'll be back.  I caught it because I track every penny of spending, a la the advice in  "Your Money or Your Life."

And I follow the geniuses on this free resource, the Early Retirement Forum, among many, many others.  I'm even dragging my book club through a Review of "The 7 Money Mantras" (i.e., if it's on your ass, it's not an asset).  

Good luck to you, and I hope Neal finds a way out.

I'll be back next with a juicy, frugal fun blog post.  In the meantime, I'll be clipping a few coupons so that I can enjoy the things I love best -- like going out with my friends.

And maybe I'll set up a GoFundMe account for Neal.  His contribution to our money discussion in America has spurred an important conversation for all of us.