Yes, times are tough.
People are upside down on their mortgages.
Some are even going through the foreclosure process.
Retail stores are closing at a record pace.
The stock market sucks.
World economies are in turmoil.
Jobs are still hard to come by in some areas.
It’s certainly difficult to imagine that these events are happening at the same time.
Sometimes things happen that are beyond our control.
Everywhere you turn people are crying for help.
Fingers are pointing everywhere except for where they should be pointed.
Here is a novel idea, though:
Take a good long look in the mirror and see who is truly to blame for your own personal situation: you!
For years, people have been worried about keeping up with the Joneses.
Emulating what they see on entertainment tv programs.
They go out and purchase cars and houses.
Things that consume most of their take-home pay just to say that they drive this car or that car, or so they can say that they live in this zip code or that city.
They struggle to live paycheck-to-paycheck using almost every last cent to pay for the luxuries that they thought would bring them status but only drive them deeper into debt.
Did they not think that one day this would all catch up to them?
For years the national savings rate was at historically low levels under 1%.
A majority of the country wasn’t concerned with saving, just outspending and upstaging the next person.
Most reports concluded all of those things were virtually non-existent.
What happened once the ARMs started adjusting upward?
Banks, which are not in the business of selling real estate are seeing their risky lending practices come back and bite them on the asses.
Then the layoffs come, and there is no savings account, no emergency fund.
What do people do?
What else, blame everyone possible without taking personal responsibility for their own actions and decisions.
It’s really quite simple:
- House in foreclosure? Blame the bank for giving you a mortgage that you swore you could afford.
- Gas prices too high? Blame the oil and car companies for colluding to trap people into a dependence on both.
- Car being repossessed? Again, blame the bank.
- Job loss with no money in the bank? Blame the employer for making a rational business decision.
- Credit cards maxed out? Blame the bank yet again for giving you a line of credit that you couldn’t use responsibly or society for making it so easy to spend.
- Credit rating in the toilet? Blame everyone else for expecting you to pay your bills on time and the credit agencies for calculating credit scores the way they do.
Sometimes, people need a good slap in the face to wake them up to the fact that they are responsible for each of these situations.
It’s not the banks that extended the line of credit.
It’s not society (totally) for making you feel that you needed to keep up with those who actually have the means to afford their lifestyles.
It’s not the former employer that had to let you go in order for the business to survive.
Ultimately you are responsible for where you are right now. You decided to buy rather than rent even though you knew you couldn’t afford it.
It was you who purchased a luxury car versus the affordable sedan even though the payments, insurance, and fuel costs would be stretching your budget.
You are the one who made the decision to spend your bonus and/or raise rather than fund your retirement account, savings account, or emergency fund.
It is all on you for living above your means, and you have no one but the person looking back at you in the mirror for where you are at this very minute.
Obviously, this is not the same for everyone, but for a great many people who brought their current money woes upon themselves, this presents an excellent opportunity to learn something about yourselves and about money.
Look back to see how you got to this point.
See what you could have done differently, perhaps sought out a financial advisor, or read a book on money management.
Sit down and make a plan, outline your priorities, just do something to come out of this situation a more informed, more responsible consumer.