Before this column is done I’m going to make a point on federal spending that really should open your eyes. Actually, you will think that it’s so basic and simple that it’s a wonder nobody has presented it to you in this manner before! You’re soon going to learn that the way we’ve been addressing our spending problem --- and it most definitely IS a spending problem – is all wrong. You’ve been a newborn puppy long enough. Time to open your eyes.
But first …. I’ll address YOUR spending problem, and present a solution that will surprise you. It’s called The Dollar Bill Savings Plan. When you stop laughing you can read on.
OK … settled down? Ready?
Are you one of those who believes that you simply cannot save any money month-to-month because you’re living paycheck-to-paycheck? I heard from these people through my 42 years in talk radio. Save money? No way! It takes every penny I make just to get by every month!
Wrong. Not just sometimes wrong. Wrong every time. Stone cold wrong.
Now, here’s what I want you to do if you think that you just can’t save money; that there’s no room to cut back.
I want you stop spending one-dollar bills. STOP … completely. Now. Do it.
Here’s how you do this: When you leave home every morning the only currency you have with you are $5 dollar bills and higher. Not one single $1 bill anywhere to be seen. Furthermore, during the course of the day if you happen to come into possession of a $1 bill you will cram it into a back pocket or some obscure corner of your purse. That $1 is gone. You cannot touch it. When you get home you will put all the dollar bills you’ve hoarded into a jar or stuff it into a box, not to be touched until the end of the month.
I want to be completely sure you know how this works. You’re on the way to work and you decide you need a cup of coffee at the local convenience store for your drive. The lowest denomination bill you have is a $5 bill. You know that if you buy that coffee for, say, $1.90, you will have a dime and three $1 bills in change, and that those $1 bills are, for all practical purposes, GONE. They cannot be spent for the rest of the day. They cease to exist. You put them away. And no .. you cannot use them for a tip or at a toll booth. Pull out another five, or higher, and ask for change. Then you have even MORE dollar bills to put away.
Yes. We’re going to be completely anal about this. If you owe a coworker a dollar for something, hand them a twenty and get change. You’ll have a ten and a five you can spend later, but four $1 bills go into that back pocket. Or you can fish four quarters out of the bottom of your purse.
Now if you can’t afford to do this, the solution is simple. You don’t buy that cup of coffee. Keep that five for the toll and get some of that free coffee your boss provides at work. Oh, sure --- some coworker will have made a pot using two bags because that’s the way THEY like it, but you’re the one who decided you couldn’t go without spending that change from the convenience store.
Once again, at the end of the day all of those dollar bills you’ve been socking away go into hiding. A box would be great --- one you cannot see into. No need to be tempted.
OK, big spender. We’re now at the end of the month. It’s time to see what you’ve done. Open the box and count those $1 bills. Now my experience over more than 20 years of promoting this savings scheme is that most people who would swear that they could not possibly save any real money will have well over $100 in that box. At the end of the year they’ll be approaching $1,500 --- and these are the worst-case scenarios. Many save a great deal more than that.
Now – here’s another way to understand the power of the $1 bill. Do you have a huge balance on your credit card? Lordy, don’t you hate that? For most Americans the total is somewhere around $6,000 or more. Call your credit card issuer and tell them that you want your records for the last year. Go over them line by line; item by item. You will find that your huge credit card balance came not from large charges, but from many, many small ones.
The lesson? To control spending you concentrate on the small expenditures. Do that, and handling the big stuff becomes easier.
OK … Now, let’s tie this to federal spending and our exploding deficit. Every time you hear some politician talking about cutting spending, they deal only with the big ticket items, primarily Medicare and Social Security. Are these entitlement programs a problem? Yes. Out of control? Yes. But while were arguing just how to deal with these financial disasters, why not concentrate on the smaller spending items. The dollar bills.
Did you read yesterday about LG Chem Ltd? This was one of 0bama’s green-energy fiascos. They got $142 million from the American taxpayers – much more than that since that money had to be borrowed and the taxpayers will have to pay it back, with interest. Obama told us that hundreds of jobs would come of this. LG Chem was supposed to make batteries for electric cars right here in America. How many have they made here? Not one. Not one single battery. Our taxpayer money is being used to pay idle workers hunched over video games. 0bama said LG was “a symbol of where America is going.” Sadly, he was right.
So there’s 142 millon $1 bills that could have been stuffed in a box. Instead … well, the video game industry thanks you.
Then there’s A123 Systems, Inc. Auto parts. There’s another 250 million one dollar bills gone. Bankruptcy. Assets sold to a Chinese auto-parts maker.
And dare we mention Solyndra? Or Fisker Automotive?
Then there’s the turtle tunnels. Three million $1 bills to study grandparents in Alaska. Replacing windows in unused boarded-up buildings deep in our national parks. Pretty much everywhere you look, dollar bills being wasted – thrown away – gone.
Try my experiment and you’ll learn that every dollar spent, and every dollar saved, counts. That’s a lesson the politicians don’t want you to learn, however, so they’ll keep the focus on big ticket items like Medicare and Social Security, almost insurmountable spending problems, while they sit back and spend $140 million here to thank one political pal; another $260 million somewhere else to scratch the back of some big donors … and on and on and on. Chump change? In terms of the federal budget, yes … chump change. Then again, so is that dollar you just stuffed into your back pocket. But you will soon learn that watching those dollar bills makes a big difference at the end of the year, just as watching the seemingly inconsequential federal spending items will.
We cannot continue to allow these politicians from BOTH sides of the aisle to spend us into Greece with their various and seemingly minor vote-buying and donor-thanking schemes, while faking us out with their hand-wringing over the cost of Medicare and Social Security.
When you truly learn that every dollar spent or saved counts, you’ll use those lessons at the voting booth. The political class won’t be pleased.