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December 2007 - Posts - The Dollar Stretcher
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The Dollar Stretcher

The Dollar Stretcher blog will explore people and money.

December 2007 - Posts

  • In the Arena

    This seems to be my week for interesting quotes. This one

    comes from an email. It was included as the signature line.

    "Developing the capability is not the same as occupying the

    arena."

    It reminds me a little bit of something I heard years ago

    about golf tips (btw, I am NOT a golfer - just don't have

    enough coordination or patience for the game). This avid

    golfer said that he didn't need more golf tips. What he needed

    was the ability to follow the ones that he already had heard.

    Seems that's true of the quote from the email. We can continue

    to collect time and money-saving ideas. We can even organize

    and save them. Print them out and put them in a notebook if we

    want. But until we put them into practice, they won't save us

    any time or money.

    Based on the emails I get, most of you are already in the

    arena and in the game. I just want to be sure that I'm

    alongside you this coming year so that we can celebrate the

    victory together!

    Posted Dec 17 2007, 12:59 PM by Gary with no comments
    Filed under:
  • Where are you?

    The other day I came across a question that I thought was interesting. It was in a different context, so I'll translate it into 'stretcherese'. Have you come to a point in your life where you've decided to change your finances?

    Much of what we do comes down to a decision. If we haven't made that decision then it'll be easy to fall back into our old spending habits. In fact, it's almost inevitable that we will.

    On the other hand, if we've made a decision then we have something to hold onto. Something to strive for. A bechmark to measure our progress against. In other words, we've given ourselves a tool that can be very helpful in achieving our financial goals.

    So I'll ask the question again. Have you come to a point in your life where you've decided to change your finances?

  • Financial Predictions

    December 12, 2007 

    Each year experts share their predictions for future events. So in an effort to help you do well financially, I'd like to announce the following Dollar Stretcher predictions.

    I predict that sometime over the next twelve months you will be tempted to buy something big that you cannot afford. It could be a house, car, wide-screen TV or anything big and expensive. Originally you'll be tempted by a television ad, a purchase your co-worker or neighbor makes or the desire to feel good about yourself.

    I predict that you'll find a variety of reasons that you should make the big purchase. You'll think of different ways that you could handle the payments. You'll begin to picture yourself owning the coveted thing and tell yourself that you 'deserve' the item.

    I can't tell whether you'll give in or not. If you do you could be facing years of payments. It probably won't make you feel any better, but many of the people in mortgage trouble today fell victim to the temptation a few years ago.

    I predict that during the next year you'll be offered unnecessary credit. It could come in a variety of forms. A store credit card that offers 10% off of your first purchase using the card. Or an increase in the limit on your existing credit card. Or a bank offering to set you up with a "homeowners line of credit" on your house.

    They'll tell you that the offer is made because you're special - a preferred customer or someone who manages their money well. Don't believe them. The reason that they'll offer you more credit is because they want you to use it. It's easier to spend money you don't have when there's credit available. And that's when the real fun starts.

    I predict that sometime during the next year you'll face an 'unexpected bill'. The most likely sources for the bill are a home repair, car repair or a medical bill. Most people don't have any money saved for this type of financial emergency. After all, who can tell when an unexpected bill will come in. Since you don't have money saved you'll charge the bill and begin making monthly payments on it. You'll find the payments frustrating since you really don't have anything new to show for them.

    I predict that something you couldn't live without a few years ago will become a burden this year. There are a number of reasons this will happen. It could be that the item didn't deliver as promised. Maybe it's just gotten old. In fact, maybe it doesn't work at all any more. Even though the fun is gone you might still be making payments on it. Regardless of the cause, if you look around your house or garage you'll find something that was irresistible before you bought it that you would gladly get rid of now.

    I predict that you won't save enough. You'll find it 'impossible to save' on your present income. But you won't feel too bad about it. Your friends won't be saving either. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis the saving rate has been 2% or less of disposable income since 2002. You'll avoid thinking about things that could make you feel bad about not saving. Like college for your kids, financial emergencies and your own retirement.

    I predict that you'll accumulate more 'stuff'. In the last 35 years the average home size has gone up by 50%. And, self-storage places are cropping up all over. So you'll have more stuff twelve months from now. It could be something you're collecting, or just routine shopping. I further predict that all this stuff will cause you to wonder whether your present house or apartment is too small. You'll be tempted to move to a bigger, more expensive home.

    I predict that one of your neighbors will fall into serious financial trouble and you won't know it. What you'll see is a lifestyle with new cars, designer clothes, a nice house with all the trimmings. But, underneath your neighbor will be stressed trying to keep up with all their payments. Studies are estimating that 30% of employees are worried about their finances. So your co-worker is struggling, too. The first sign that the prediction is true is when they abruptly stop spending money or when you hear that they're splitting up (financial problems are the number one cause of divorce).

    You've probably noticed a trend among these predictions. I'm not much of a fortuneteller and the predictions are not very bold. In fact, most of them are so common that anyone could predict them. In fact, that's the point. You can be pretty sure that these things will happen to you. Wouldn't it be wise to be prepared for them?

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Gary is a former financial planner and purchasing manager who edits The Dollar Stretcher website <www.stretcher.com> and newsletters. You can follow Gary on Twitter.com/gary_foreman
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