Sunday, April 24, 2016

Guaranteed Basic Income

Not trying to get political but I have had lots of thoughts related to getting out of debt and the concept of universal basic income.
To start I want to state where I stand so that one you can identify my bias in what I say, and two because everyone likes their opinion to be heard.

I am for a universal basic income. There are lots of factors that have got me to this point, however, I believe that our countries current circumstances will not allow us to implement such a program. I believe that it is and will be possible for us to get to the point where America is ready to implement this policy. But if certain conditions are not met before doing so I believe that it will impoverish our country to the point that we will no longer be a super power and instead be a second rate country just trying to keep a float. These conditions are: getting America out of debt, removing debt from our country's mindset, and increasing our country's GDP.

This is a topic of conversation that comes up a lot between my husband and I. We both feel that creative jobs are the future and we will not the huge group of manual laborers. In addition, I am more for a program like this instead of all the individual programs that are out there. Part of my favor for this program is based on a program for the homeless that I read about in Utah. The program gives a place to live and a minimum allowance for the person to spend. What made this program so unique was that there was no strings attached. They didn't have to get or stay clean of drugs. If they wanted to get clean there were services offered to them. But they were given the agency to live how they wanted. The program has been wildly successful.

I like that a program such as Guaranteed Basic Income because it gives the agency to the people. So much of what the Left wants to put in place I do not like because what it comes down to is taking away our agency to choose to be charitable and takes away the agency of recipients.

Between my thoughts on America's debt and a recent episode of Freakonomics, this has brought a lot of thoughts together.

Thought One: There are those that argue that the vast amounts of accumulated debt is greatly linked with the low wages and a guaranteed basic income could eliminate the idea that debt is needed.

Personally I do not think that a Basic income would help the debt issues in this nation. I think it *might* decrease those using "payday loans" but without most Americans changing their mindset that debt is needed then we will just have more low income people in more debt because this is "income" and high income opens you up to higher amounts of debt.

Though Two: If America was to implement a Universal income, yes it will help. But so many of American's are underwater, the majority of what they would be receiving will be going to pay off their debt. And if Americans haven't changed their mindset about debt the basic needs that the universal income is there to cover won't be able to be covered. It will be going to pay interest. No amount will ever be enough to give someone who doesn't know how to budget their money and stay out of debt. No amount is enough if they do not know how to live within their means.

We can not force people to make their lives better. However, they will first need to be taught how to make their lives better or the cycle will continue. 

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Let's talk about Americans' Debt Problem

A friend of mine posted on facebook recently an article written by author Neal Gabler. He brings up a lot of reasons why American's are so in debt. Starting with how with a statistic that "nearly half of Americans would not be able to get together $400 to pay for an emergency." I got the impression that would include even having $400 available in lines of credit to pay for the emergency. It goes on to say that even a small percentages of American's could go on to get $2000 together to pay for an emergency. 
Now we have always had enough lines of credit to pay for a $400 emergency and a $2000 emergency. But regardless if we could get the funds together, if it was possible to pay for it with the credit card- we did. It was easier not to think about it.  That is part of the reason we are in the situation we are in. In addition, if those funds were required in cash, it would just mean that something else would be put on a card.
Before starting on this path of debt reduction, I would have sympathized more with his life story. I would have related more to his plight. But now I look at it and notice that there is a tone of "yes it is my own fault" that they are weighed down by this debt, and he sees himself as breaking a taboo just talking about it. I get the impression that he is also saying "BUT I would make the same choices again and still be in the same situation". He is not saying that debt is a bad choice all the time. I distinctly feel that he is saying that debt is necessary but shackling us as Americans away from our dreams. 
I see the attitude that needs to happen in America as a state of repentance.Repentance is more than just saying you are sorry, but we have to change, to truly repent we must make permanent changes to our lives.

We need to recognize that we have a problem with debt. Each of us individually needs to recognize, then we need to repent of our addiction, by feeling sorrowful for our choice, and then resolving to never use it again. Mr. Gabler did not seem repentant. He recognized that there was a problem, he even seemed remorseful that he made those choices, but it felt that he was still trying to justify his choices. In the end, although he talks about how their past choices are determining their choices today, I would not be surprised to learn that he and his wife are still using credit cards as a way of life. One thing I have realized is that as long as you are a consumer of debt products, eventually you will accumulate debt and become "in-debt". You will never get out of the cycle unless you forsake the products of debt. Yes some people, like my dad, can have a card and pay it all every month. He only uses it for those things were he needs to (internet, hotel bookings, car reservations). For everyday purchases he uses is debit card. I have learned that I am not my dad and neither are most Americans. Especially American's who have been told that they will have to go into debt to enjoy a basic standard of living, that is how it is done, how everyone does it. Especially Americans who have been told that their buying power will never be that of their parents because their income isn't going to increase. It is stagnate. Lastly it is never going to work for Americans who have bought into the mentality that buying stuff is good, and if you can't afford it put it on the card, the card benefits are great. All things that most Americans find normal and how things are done. I so wish I could ask Mr. Gabler some questions. See if he sees this bigger picture. It is never too late to change. Change our lives and repent, and change our spending habits and get out of debt.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Are YOU ready for a world Emergency

My husband and I recently engaged in a conversation about could happen that would force us to live off of what we currently have.
It had all started by being reminded that our water storage needs to be rotated. The conversation then moved to could we live off of what we have and for how long. I estimate we could manage with what we currently have for 3-6 months. The thing I am most concerned over is eggs. I have some egg substitutes but no powdered eggs and if there was a reason to live off of it, once what we have from the store is gone there would be no more eggs. My husband is want to remind me that we do live in a rural community and lots of people raise chickens. Long term we'd probably be fine. 

I remember on my mission for the LDS church in rural Florida there were a number of members who were all converts on one remote community. They all told me the same story about their conversion. Back in the 70's (? I Have never bothered to look up the dates), there was a trucking strike. It lasted a couple months, but the results on this small community were harsh.  It took up to 6 months for every thing to get back to normal and get the everyday goods flowing back into their community. Many people were unable to get goods they needed to live life. All of the stories also mentioned knowing a member of church (never learned if they all knew the same person), and the member of the church was unconcerned with how long it was going to take to get the good flowing again. The member was very open about the teaching of the church, emergency preparedness, and year supply. That is why they were not worried. As a result, each story, would then continue to say that a church that teaches their people isn't crazy and started to investigate the church. {Love this story as how this person(s) was being a member missionary}. 
Back to the conversation with my husband, I can totally see a situation that disrupts the transportation of goods causing such results today.

My husband then reminded me of what happened after the 9-11 attacks (I was in college at the time and shortly after left on my mission so I was most oblivious). The two days of no planes flying devastated many businesses. It was no joking matter. Just two days caused many businesses to have to fold.   Then he reminded me about the volcano in Iceland. So much lost. The economic effects were felt all over Europe and the world. There was the whole discussion over Iceland paying everyone for the economic loss which I thought was crazy because they had no control over a volcano. The volcano could have exploded anywhere. So given these two examples what if there was something that knocked out flight for a week or a month. What could that do to our economy? 

Are you ready if something devastating was to happen and you could buy no groceries for 6 months? 
One last thought, is at what point do we realize we are doing something for the long term and change our choices? My goal is to get to the point where I wouldn't need to change much because I am rotating and using everything I have.
Have you ever done the "emergency challenge"? Randomly pick a day and say that for one week you will act like their are no stores and make do? My mom tells of their Stake President issuing this as a challenge at stake conference. She was a child at the time. I am not a "preper" but this conversation with my husband has caused me to give some thought to it.  What areas am I unprepared? How long could we last? What things am I overlooking? Every time I run out of something I think and I pray that day of doom doesn't come before I could stock up on that item. Is it time to take inventory of your life?
This isn't even taking into account the economic effect it could happen on our families. Could we pay bills? If no one could work would we handle not being paid for a few months? All the more reason we need to be getting out of debt as fast as we all can.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Doctors Bills and thinking you're out of the woods

Last year wasn't a great year for doctor's bills for us. To top it off, we choose to have my tonsils taken out just before the end of the year.
After last year we changed insurances. A number of our doctors were no longer on the plan and that was our number one consideration. I have had a horrible time trying to find a new pediatrician (our last one retired), and for where we live there was only one option left on our insurance and I was not okay with that option. Picking an insurance is hard. Luckily we have lots of options through my husband's employer. However, there is no way to see what option is truly the best option for your pocketbook. One of the frustrations under the last insurance was that going to the doctor was cheap, but they hardly covered anything if you had to go to the hospital. Unless you were actually having a baby, then they covered just about everything. But if you have a D&C because the pregnancy miscarried, it covered almost nothing- which for a grieving mother is not what you want to deal with, the financial costs cause my depression to get worse. One of the things we looked for with our new insurance, was a reasonable hospital trips. We have a $500 copay period now with hospital visits. We have a much high doctor copay but it is a trade off.

I digress from my purpose.

A three weeks ago, right after baths, my daughter comes and tells me that her leg hurts. I look and just below her bum on her right right leg is what looks like a small pimple. She is only 4, I have never seen a pimple on a child that young, nor one on the leg. It had a tiny head on it so I grabbed some supplies and gave it a squeeze. A fair amount of stuff, mostly clear, a little white thing, and then blood. Cleaned it up and put a FROZEN bandage on it and off to bed.
The next evening I mentioned it to my husband and we took a look at it, this time it was the size of a dime and had a pussy head. Again we cleaned it out. My husband, with all his BSA instructor first aid certification, said it looked like a spider bite, and since we have poisonous spiders here, we called the doctor when the office opened.
The doctor took one look at it and said it looked like "community MRSA".  We had to continue to clean it, and bathe her nightly. After bathing we were instructed to clean it with a dab of bleach before bandaging it.
The appointment co-pay was $35 and her prescription was about $2.50- all in all not bad. It cleared up super fast. I was thinking the other day at how blessed we were. This could have turned into something super bad for her and our pocketbook. Yet we caught it in time, we took care of it, and it cleared up with minimal effect. Then our new insurance sent a statement of payment, it was to the lab they sent the sample of fluid to. They said it was to verify it was "community MRSA" and not full on MRSA. The statement from the insurance said they paid $79 and that we owe the provider (hospital lab) $278. WHAT!!!! Just when I though we were getting out of the woods of medical bills from last year. We are *almost* done paying off my hospital bills from surgery. Now this. Granted it is not the bill, not yet.  It makes me so mad. In addition the tests came back inconclusive so we are going to be charged all the money for no results. Yes I am grateful for the previous things mentioned. It could have turned into something so worse.

On another note. I have since learned that the pediatrician I have started taking the kids to only uses the hospital lab. If we were going to the old office, they would have sent it to a different lab and the cost of the lab would have been a lot less.