Yesterday while I was reading early-retirement.org forums I stumbled upon this post on how more people are being forced into early retirement and early social security. In the post someone linked to this NBC Special called America Now: Friends and Neighbors. I was extremely moved by this video and it really struck a cord with me in seeing how poor some of these Americans are living. Here is a short clip of a scene from the special that really hit me.
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I know my upbringing was no where close to this, but to this day I still remember one scene that stuck out for me. I remember one day driving home from school in the back seat of our family car, and complaining about why I couldn’t get this toy I wanted. I was being completely annoying about it, and being selfish like a typical 2nd grader. We were a stones throw away from Grandma’s house and I was continuing to complain and whine. Mom then slammed on the car’s breaks and Mom whipped around and cried to us and said, “Charlie, you don’t understand. We don’t have any money. We are really hurting for money, and we are trying to do everything to provide for you, but we can’t afford this now. Dad is stressed out, because crop prices aren’t very good and neither are pig prices. I’m sorry, but we can’t afford it.” I never felt so bad in my life. Just shook to the core. To this day, I think this instance had probably the most profound impact on my life in terms of money, because I was 1) selfish and 2) my parents were doing everything to provide for us. This feeling still stays with me today, because having three kids of my own I feel the same sense of responsibility in providing the basic needs for my family. I never want them to go without.
Based on this here are a few tips I have for helping to always make sure you provide for your family.
Education – do everything you can to do well in school early, and provide a good education for you and your kids so they can have more opportunities. Never under estimate the power of a good education.
Educational Resource: Online university degrees can be a great option.
Military – if you are in need of a steady job, then consider joining the military. A lot of people in high unemployment areas can use the military as a means of getting out of a difficult environment. It also will help pay for your education with the GI bill, provides you with health insurance, gives your family a roof over their heads, and allows you to serve this great country we live in and fight for freedom.
Save in times of plenty – when times are good do everything you can to save a few extra dollars here and there. You never know when you might lose your job, get sick, or have to take a cut in pay. Saving for a rainy day will hopefully help you weather recession storms.
Avoid debt – don’t be a slave to a lender. Like I wrote last week on how the debtor is a slave to the lender do everything you can to avoid debt and save for major purchases.
Establish a budget– whether you have a job or not, it is important to sit down with the whole family and write out a budget. Keep your expenses below your income, and do everything you can to stash a little away in an emergency fund.
I was so moved by this story that I’d like to offer a challenge to the ThreeThriftyGuys.com readers. I am collecting donations on our side bar and below for the food pantry featured in this NBC special report, and going to donate 100% of the collections. My goal is to raise $1,000 towards this special cause. I’d ask you to consider donating and sharing your own stories with how you are surviving the Great Recession in the comments section. Thanks.