Making Ends Meet

    Here’s the old story.  A person goes to school, get a degree, finds a 40 hour a week job.  That job has a weekly income while also providing benefits like health insurance. The really good jobs have dental, or a gym membership, or a provided cell phone.  That young person then meets another young person and falls in love, and they marry.  Babies follow.  Two incomes.  Two and a half kids.  Daycare.  Yearly vacations, saving for retirement, saving for kids’ college, the sky is the limit.  That is the story I heard growing up in suburbs of America.  It is what many of my peers were walking towards.  At our high school graduation, our principal told us in his address, “Follow the money.”  

    Whelp, that old story is becoming a myth.  College is not the advice it once was.  How much debt is piled up for no guarantee on investment?  Unless you are in engineering or medicine, it seems college is a gamble.  The walk-on big-money jobs of GM are gone.  I live in Flint, Michigan, a city where a high school graduate once made $20 an hour starting off.  That is long gone, and it ain’t coming back. 

    Even with two incomes, many households feel the burden of finances.  Insurance is no longer a benefit given.  If you are able to pay money every week to a decent plan, you are pumped.  For guys like me, who are in the government marketplace of an ever-changing system that is unsustainable, 1/5 of our income is insurance for the family.  It is my 2nd largest bill after a mortgage.  And horrifyingly, I have no idea how much it is going to jump next year.  I can’t even properly budget because the train has no brakes.  

    With all this and more on American households, many turn to 2nd incomes.  Facebook is a platform for many attempts at making money for the home.  The peer to peer business - the pyramid scheme reborn - is everywhere.  And the people swinging at this are not bad people.  The marketing is well done and the promises are loud.  Why wouldn’t I give 5 hours a week to make an extra $100 a month?  Why wouldn’t I turn every friendship I got into a sales pitch?  It is people trying to make it.  Sadly, most who enter that world end up with less than they walked in with.  The thing about pyramids is that only a few sit at the top.

    Working weekends, a 2nd job, a peer to peer business.. these are becoming more common.  People are doing their 40 hours a week.  They are clocking in and clocking out and still find themselves behind the 8 ball.  Money is still one of the great stressors of most households in America.   With all that in mind, I am going to be sharing some of the financial rules I live by.  These tips have guided me through much turmoil, and aide me now in a new season of life.  I hope the next few weeks are helpful to you as you walk. 

A fellow traveller,

Ernesto Alaniz