I’m sure I’m not the only person looking ahead at the new year with a combination of excitement about all the possibilities and apprehension about the situation we find ourselves in, economically. You can hardly turn on a news station without seeing self-proclaimed financial gurus sharing their thoughts on this, that, and the other thing, while no one knows who the experts really are any more. But here are some facts that we need to face as we make our goals and plans for the coming twelve months:
1. Unemployment rates are skyrocketing. There are currently six million Americans who have been unemployed for six months or longer. If you’re unsatisfied with your current job, now is not the time to quit and go job-hunting – stay where you are, count your blessings, and bring home a check. You’re a lot better off than a vast number of other people.
2. 61% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. I don’t know all the reasons, whys, and wherefores—some might argue that with a better budget and savings plan, this wouldn’t be the case. That’s not the point. The point is that more than half of the people in our nation are feeling insecure and even scared about their financial situation.
3. As of this week, the national debt is nearly 14 trillion dollars. I can’t even imagine a number that high. And if we were to put the nation on a budget and strictly enforce it, we still couldn’t pay that down within a reasonable amount of time. It’s simply out of control, and that’s all there is to it. I’m of the opinion that the government should have turned the budget over to a homemaker who was raised during the Great Depression. Those women knew how to make a dollar last as long as humanly possible. We’d be in a much better position today if there had been more frugal spending in the past.
As I look ahead at 2011, I’m not seeing a sudden solution, and I don’t think there is one. I believe that our task now as citizens, as responsible adults, and as parents, is to be grateful for the opportunities for growth and progress that come our way, to budget our paychecks responsibly, and to keep our hearts softened toward those around us who might not be faring so well.
I don’t believe the time has come to give up—I’m not a quitter, and so I will never feel it’s time to give up—and I believe that we still have much to celebrate and much to anticipate. Times may be rough, but if we keep our attitudes good and focus on being responsible, we will come out ahead.