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May 2010 - Posts - The Dollar Stretcher
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The Dollar Stretcher

The Dollar Stretcher blog will explore people and money.

May 2010 - Posts

  • Can We Keep This Up?

    USA Today has an interesting article today. It's headlined "Private pay shrinks to historic lows" and discusses how our paychecks have declined as a portion of personal income (from 47.6% q1 2000 to 41.9% q1 2010). At the same time government benefits have increased (12.1% q1 2000 to 17.9% q1 2010). 

    The article poses an interesting question. Since paychecks are a major source of the taxes that pay for government benefits, can this trend continue without a crisis like we're seeing in Greece today? 

    I'll let you deal with the politics. But, it would appear that one good solution would be to create more private sector jobs for more people. And, at the same time, reduce the number of people dependent on government benefits. 

    Take a look at the article and see what you think. Feel free to add your comments, too!

    Keep on Stretching those Dollars!

    Gary

     

  • Can Failure = Success?

       One has to remember that every failure can be a stepping stone to    
       something better.
       - Col. Harland Sanders


    Today's quote comes from Col. Harland Sanders. Most people know him as the founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken and recognize the successes that he enjoyed later in his life. In fact, according to Wikipedia, visits to his first potential franchisees was made possible by spending his $105 social security check.

    But, there's more to Sanders story than that. He spend much of his life facing one challenge after another. Many of them would have stopped a less determined person.

    When he was 5 his Dad died. He dropped out of school in the 7th grade. His step-father beat him, so he ran away from home. During his adult years he was a farmer, insurance salesman, steamboat pilot and railroad fireman. It appears that he didn't make his mark in any of those fields. What we'll probably never know is what he learned in each one. Even though he wasn't a 'success' he took something of value with him. As he describes it a stepping stone to something better.

    By the time he was 40, Sanders ran a gas station in Corbin, KY. He cooked chicken and served it to travelers out of his living quarters on the gas station property. Soon he opened a restraurant and gained local success. And, then the new interstate highway took most of the traffic away from his location. When faced with similar circumstances, many local restraurants simply closed. Harland Sanders chose to use it as yet another stepping stone.

    He piled cooking equipment in the trunk of his car and began visitng restraurants. He convinced some that becoming a Kentucky Fried Chicken franchisee would improve their business. And he began to build the chain that we still know today. He had stepped his way to something better.

    So the question that I have to ask myself is what can I take from my experiences, even painful ones, that can be used as a stepping stone to a better future? What can I learn from my past financial deals? And, just as important, do I have the determination to get up and take the next step?


    Keep on Stretchin' those Dollars!

    Gary

    Originally appeared in Financial Independence. Join those who are already achieving their financial goals and taking control of their lives. You can begin the journey today to a new and brighter financial future. 

  • A Dog's Life

    A few years ago my wife and kids convinced me that we needed to have a dog in the house. My wife had grown up in homes that always included a dog. But, for me it was a new experience. I've noticed a few things about dogs. At least our dog. She's instinctively a pack animal. She likes it best when she's with someone. She's also quite patient, at least when food or a walk isn't involved.


    A few days ago a new friend said something that I thought rang true. Dogs live in the moment. They're not concerned about an hour ago or an hour in the future. They're focused on this minute, right now. Whether they're playing, eating or sleeping, now is the most important time for them.

    At first, I thought how nice it would be if we could do the same thing. Just live for right now. Enjoy the moment and not worry about what happened yesterday or might happen tomorrow. And, to a certain extent, that would be good. Yesterday's problems wouldn't cast a shadow today. No concerns for tomorrow, either.

    But, in another way that's just not practical. I need to be aware of what could happen tomorrow. Saving for the inevitable home or auto repair makes it much easier to handle that event whenever it happens. Reaching retirement age without preparing for it could make for not-so-golden years.

    So I guess I'll just need to accept that dogs and people are different. Sometimes, like dogs, we need to stay in the moment and enjoy it for what it is. But, there are other times that we need to learn from our past and prepare for our future. And the sooner that we know the difference, the happier our lives will be.

    Originally appeared in "Financial Independence" Join those who are already achieving their financial goals and taking control of their lives. You can begin the journey today!
     

  • Why Do I Want This?

    Just heard the funniest story. This morning a friend reported that their garbage cans were stolen. Overnight her two ten year old cans had disappeared. I knew immediately that there was either a joke or a blog entry staring me in the face. Since I couldn't think of the joke, I decided to go for the blog entry.

    Not to get too cerebral, but the logical question is why would someone steal old garbage cans. Could it be that they needed cans and couldn't afford to buy them? Or did someone take them just because they could? Maybe it was a prank. Some kids just fooling around.

    I don't want to overreach here. There's only so much metaphysical, life-changing meaning you can draw from two stolen trash cans. But it does occur to me that asking why I want something is a good question before making any purchase. Is it because I need it? Or is it just because whatever it is is available now? Maybe it's just an impulse buy. My guess is that we might avoid a few purchases if we asked ourselves why we wanted an item before we bought it. And, (to close the circle) that would mean that in the future fewer things would end up in the trash!

    What methods do you use to remind you to stay on track? We'd like to share your best ideas with others. But we can only do that if you share with us.

  • The Meaning of Frugal

     

    Hello to all my Frugal Friends!

    Wanted to cover a couple of different things in this week's intro.

    First, I wanted to shine the spotlight on one of our regular contributors. The reason that she's a regular is that she knows a lot about frugal living. Unlike so many folks who are new to the lifestyle, Shaunna Privratsky has been at it for quite awhile. And, while that doesn't make her a better person than the newbie, it does mean that she's been exposed to more ideas and has had more time to experiment to find out what works best. If you haven't already, you'll want to visit her site. While you're there sign up for her newsletter and check out her ebooks.

    While we're on the subject of ebooks, I got an email commenting our our ebook offer from last week. One reader asked how a site dedicated to saving money could encourage people to buy ebooks. It's a good question. And, I think the answer is important, so I'd like to address it here.

    Our purpose at The Dollar Stretcher is to help you "Live Better...for Less". Sometimes that does mean not spending money. Specifically for things that you don't really need. But, sometimes not spending money is the wrong answer and costs you in the long-run.

    Consider a class in gardening. Suppose you spend $50 or $100 on an adult ed class that taught you how to grow seedlings so that you don't have to buy more expensive plants. The class would also teach you how to water and fertilize the plants properly. You'd expect that they'd cover how to control various insect and animals that could kill your plants. In short, the class could save you many hours and dollars that would be wasted if you had not taken the class.

    So frugal living isn't always about not spending money. It's really about getting good value for the money that you do spend.

    So I'm very comfortable recommending our ebook package. Could you save $12.50 by not taking advantage of the opportunity? Sure. But you'll save much more with the ideas these ebooks contain. Is the information available in other places for free? Yep, it sure is. Even on our site. But, you'll save hours of your time by having it all organized for you in easy to find format.

    So I encourage you to check it out. Don't forget that to get the 70% discount you need to act before midnight Friday May 14th. Oh, and one last thing. The offer comes with a 100% money back guarantee for up to 60 days.

    All the Best!

    Gary

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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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