Where Do We Go From Here? How About Back To The Basics

by Ron Haynes

Our basic financial system appears to be broken. The Federal government is borrowing from our future and using the money to bail out crooks, cronies, and contributors. Here we are on Main Street America anxiously waiting for the second Great Depression that the media is clamoring for, all the while looking around for solutions and saviors.

I can tell you who WON’T save us: the President, the Senate, the House of Representatives, Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, the Security and Exchange Commission chairman, the Treasury Secretary, Uncle Ben of the Federal Reserve, or even a new President. No, what will get us out of this bind is the same thing that has gotten us out of binds in the past:

Getting back to basics.

Any football coach will tell you that when you’re down at half-time and getting whipped all over the field to focus on the basics of blocking and tackling. A track coach will tell you when you’re way behind to focus on each step and to keep your arms in and your pace steady. A golf coach will tell you to keep your head down and your left arm straight. A business coach will tell you to cut your expenses and grow your customer base. Getting back to the basics is the surest way to resolve any crisis.

Our “leaders” won’t listen to reason, so what are the financial basics WE need to focus on to insure that we, as individuals, have a secure financial future and that we don’t have to be bailed out (a personal bail out is called bankruptcy)?

1. Live within your means starting TODAY. C’mon. Do you really need a new car, boat, house, flat screen TV, vacation home, truck, plane, furniture, or wardrobe? Contentment will take you a long way financially so cut those expenses.
2. Budget your income starting TODAY. From this point forward, make it a practice to know where every cent of your income is going. Even if you don’t make enough to cover your current expenses, write a budget anyway. Make your money go where you want it to go.
3. Formulate a plan to get out of debt TODAY. Whether you prefer the Dave Ramsey method of paying off small balances first or you prefer to pay off the largest interest rate accounts first, start a plan to eliminate debt from your financial life.
4. Seek ways to diversify your income TODAY. Anytime you can make extra money, you can use those funds to work on your debt or help cover your expenses.
5. Save something out of every paycheck TODAY. Ideally, the larger the amount the better, but don’t be intimidated if you cannot save that “magical 10 percent.” Any amount is a start, and getting started is the hardest part of the game. Just get started. Only $5? It’s a start. People have come to this country with less and accomplished a great deal. So can you.

Nothing fancy. No shrewd moves. No collateralized debt obligations, no mortgage backed securities, no credit default swaps or anything that isn’t easily understood by a 5th grader. The basics are just that … the basics.

Where DO we go from here? The answer is anywhere you wish but only after you have gotten the basics down pat.

[tags]basics, budget, contentment, debt, expenses, financial, income, life, money, paycheck, plan, save, savings[/tags]

About the author

Ron Haynes has written 1001 articles on The Wisdom Journal.


The founder and editor of The Wisdom Journal in 2007, Ron has worked in banking, distribution, retail, and upper management for companies ranging in size from small startups to multi-billion dollar corporations. He graduated Suma Cum Laude from a top MBA program and currently is a Human Resources and Management consultant, helping companies know how employees will behave in varying situations and what motivates them to action, assisting firms in identifying top talent, and coaching managers and employees on how to better communicate and make the workplace MUCH more enjoyable. If you'd like help in these areas, contact Ron using the contact form at the top of this page or at 870-761-7881.


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{ 10 comments }

Patrick

I agree 100%, Ron. It’s going to take a lot of work to get our country’s financial system out of the dumps, and the only way is if everyone pitches in. The most important thing I can do is to live a financially responsible life, and encourage others to do the same – we bloggers have the obligation to do this as well.

Uncommonadvice

The 5 points above are the recipe to a happy life. These 5 points should be taught at school!

Kent @ The Financial Philosopher

I agree with your premise here; however, I will add that “going back to basics” underscores the fact that were not already at “the basics.”

As I suspect you would agree, the current financial “crisis” is simply a display, and result, of the most recent cycle of greed, which will simply manifest itself into a different form and create another mess to clean up in about five to seven years. Many, I expect, will return to “the basics” now that our economy and our livelihoods are at risk; but how long will consumers and the federal government stay at “the basics?”

Rather than “starting TODAY,” as you suggest, the underlying problem is that we did not apply the basics YESTERDAY, figuratively speaking, when the economy was strong and the stock market was hitting record highs.

Predictably, the mass majority of US consumers and federal government will continue the “buy now, pay later” mentality in short time as complacency returns.

Where we absolutely agree is your belief in the virtue of contentment and your implication that we should focus on those things we can control and try to avoid or ignore those things that are not within our control…

“You have power over your mind — not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.” ~ Marcus Aurelius

Ron

#Kent @ The Financial Philosopher→
When you figure out how to go BACK to yesterday, let me know. :D
I’m still working on that one.

I question whether the economy really was strong anyway, since it was under girded by huge amounts of debt.

David Y

I agree with your post. Being financially secure isn’t hard. Just follow the basic concepts you listed. I would add a couple of things.

Have an emergency fund, including actual cash. Life happens.

Also, invest for the long term. Don’t try to chase after every hot trend or panic at every downturn.

Kent @ The Financial Philosopher

Going “back to yesterday,” as I stated, was a figure of speech…

Your questioning of “whether the economy really was strong” is absolutely correct, which underscores my point:

If things are going well, we should expect that they won’t be going quite so well in the not-so-distant future. The markets are cyclical and we are simply at (or near) the beginning of the end of this particular cycle.

The last comment suggesting “an emergency fund” speaks to “the basics” of saving for a rainy day. Well, today it is raining and many people (and institutions) have nothing to sustain themselves…

I must say that your post does a fine job of speaking to the values of learning from our (and/or others’) mistakes and it is unfortunate that more people do not pursue and apply that wisdom…

“To make no mistakes is not in the power of man; but from their errors and mistakes the wise and good learn wisdom for the future.” ~ Plutarch

Kate@LivingTheFrugalLife

You know, when I read the title of your post, I thought, “Exactly.” And yet, my idea of the basics is quite different from yours. Your view is more macro than mine. I think of “basics” in more nitty-gritty terms of home economics. Neither view is the “correct” one of course. But my basics are more along the lines of: turn off the lights when not in use, cook from scratch and eat at home, harvest the last of the garden vegetables and freeze them for winter, bunch errands up together so as to drive less. I guess my focus is just more concrete and street level, as opposed to big-picture financial. The two go hand-in-hand, I suppose, ideally. Perhaps if more people adhered to the basics at home, the basics in terms of investing would seem obvious to a lot more people.

Alice

Another thing that can be added is finding new cheaper ways to live your life and make business. Crisis is a challenge, and we become stronger overcomming challenges. I think today is time to innovate. Technology offers so many opportunities for innovating businesses today, and this innovation brings cost-effective solutions. Find cheaper products and services and you’ll have a chance to sirve in this turmoil.

Danielle

@Kate I agree both “basics” are helpful! Yours is just more concrete about how to scrimp and find ways to create those dollars to save.

John Bisner

:idea: :oops: “What We Know, Forget and Never Apply” :shock: :?:

It is hard to wake up everyday in the morning thinking about the long day you have ahead and the many things you need to do before getting back home to your family again. Coping with a complex society today and the demands of a family, friends, job, and economy does not help the agony of struggling to survive we feel inside; life is very tough and sometimes it feels as if we do not have any choice of the direction our future may take us.

At a time that is rip with turbulence and much uncertainty we search for hope but not for a “wish”, we expect richness not people setting positive examples. We always have others telling us what to do and what we do wrong but never telling us what we should do and how to do it correctly. The types of influences in our lives are very important and we should always surround our selves with positive energy, discipline, and learn the importance of continuity.

Common Sense is something we all know a bit about and choose to ignore and never apply in our daily lives because we do not want to be bothered. If we guide and train our life in the path where balance, common sense, discipline, love, respect, tolerance and wisdom are key to overcome adversity and endure to live a happy and prosperous life with the freedom we seek.

It is human nature to underestimate the great powers of the brain because we do not fully understand how it works. It is easier to point blame in the opposite direction than facing the consequences, and easier to take the path of indulging that the path of sacrifice and discipline for what is worth and important to us. If we encourage our selves to cultivate and develop a richer inner spirituality and preserve our awareness between the balance of good and evil and right and wrong than we will discover the path to freedom and enlightenment. When humans develop and understanding of what is right, wrong and evil they become more mindful of their actions and this helps them to integrate their realizations into everything they do, causing lees harm and suffering where the understanding of cause and effect is what is missing a long with common sense.

In today’s education our children are not guided in every day life and learning rather than aiming for academic subjects excellence but never for a moment even thinking about developing wisdom. There is so much that they want us to learn and master that the end results are never the expected to begin with; so many subjects are thought that is hard to master any, this method I feel it is not practical and that is exactly why students have a very hard time merging what they learned and applying it into their daily lives.

The understanding of “common sense” and learning how to apply it develops compassionate people and wiser adults, something is lacking in the world today. Ancient Chinese applied these teachings in their philosophy and religions centuries ago, if they did it back than why is it so hard today? Is it because we grown lazy? We can’t commit?

In a world of constant evolution and rapid changes in advanced technology we tend to be confused thinking that we need something spectacular to live a happier and lesser stressful life, but in reality we do not need anything extraordinary, we just need discipline and continuity a long with the right influence. This mindset is the antidote to prevent anything for going terribly wrong.

We often mistake “discipline” for making life harder and difficult; rather than its aim to avoid creating harmful results. Discipline is to act in the correct way with concentration to bring awareness in everything we do. Again, disciplined people with the understanding of consequences of their actions are less likely to do anything harmful. In a world full of distractions it is very hard for any person to develop self discipline naturally and training the human brain is not an easy task, it is very tricky.

Training the human brain to follow a structure of discipline is a method that can position us into the correct path and mindset but to accomplish such discipline and apply it to our daily lives we must train harder every day and understand through realization. We need to stop living in oblivion and expending what we do not have, we need to go back to basics and stop living in impermanent happiness chasing dreams of what we should have, but can’t afford and dreams of what life should be but we can’t achieve —“Happiness”.

We need to wake up and realize that this path of fragile emptiness is no longer satisfactory and can never bring success, peace and fulfillment to our inner level. We need a change and we need a plan but to accomplish these we need to be wise, we need experience and realisation along with intellect. Looking into our spirituality we can find clarity of mind and thought and applying it can bring peace and confidence regardless of your believes as long as they are authentic.

Trusting the foundation of your internal believes will bring you stability and you can begin to find and experience freedom and peace. If we embrace spirituality and use common sense in our everyday lives not in a forceful way but in a skillful way this will provide us with confidence as individuals and therefore society and country will benefit.

It is my great wish that soon the direction of our nation change for the best and that our leaders start governing for the people and by the people instead of personal benefit and enrichment disregarding their nation and fellow citizens. I wish that by applying discipline, commitment, lineage, and wisdom we can develop the expansion and explanation of “common sense teachings” for a better AMERICA.

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