Quit Blaming the 1% for Your Financial Troubles

Background Info

Now, before you jump to any conclusions, I would like to provide some background information on myself.  I make $39,000 ($2,700/mo less tax); I have $40,000 in student loan debt ($500/mo), $8,000 ($300/mo) in car debt, and own a 1,000 sqft home for $110,000 ($700/mo).  I’d place myself in lower middle-class.  I give you this information so that you understand that I am nowhere close to that 1%.  No, I am not struggling to put food on the table, but I do have some insight, based on what I’ve observed since graduating, worth sharing.

The Problem

With the advent of the “1%” and the recent tax cuts, I have seen a large influx of people complaining about the “system” and how it is rigged to help the elites.  I do not wish to completely dismiss that.  I do believe there is certainly room for improvement; however, most of the complaints/arguments that I’ve seen, recently, are nothing more than comments from the peanut gallery.  It’s a lot easier to sit back and complain about everything instead of getting off your lazy a** and making some changes.  In the grand scheme of things, the “well-off” people got where they are today through hard work and smart financial decisions.  I know this is going to upset a lot of people, but deep down, they know they only have themselves to blame.  I’m going to address a few of the “major” arguments I see, as well as, share some of my own mistakes.

My Mistakes

I’ll start with my own mistakes so that you know that i’m not just playing the “armchair financial adviser”.  Based on the financial information provided at the beginning: I should not have bought a new car, and I should not have bought a house.  These were not the best decisions, given my income.  So why did I make this mistake? Because I wanted to do what everyone else was doing.  Sure, new cars are great and all, but in reality, it is one of the worst investments.  Cars do not gain value.  You have lost money the minute it drives off the lot; not to mention the full-coverage car insurance required and the interest on the financing.  This is probably one of the biggest mistakes, I can think of, that plagues people’s finances.  If I see you driving around in a brand new Challenger and you come to me complaining about how hard it is to make ends meet…let’s just say you won’t get any sympathy from me, and leave it at that.

One of the biggest problems is that marketing has taught you that you need everything!  Latest iPhone, newest gaming system, best clothes, a nice car, your own house, the best food, etc.; however, when you are struggling to make ends meet, you have to make cuts.  People are too prideful to make these cuts, however.  That is a huge part of the problem.  People truly do not understand the basics of managing money.  I am willing to admit that it is not entirely their own fault; they don’t teach this kind of stuff in school, strangely enough.

On a final note, I was able to avoid one major financial pitfall: credit card debt.  Credit card debt should be avoided at all costs.  The astronomical interest rates ensure that you never escape the debt!  Now, I understand that there may be absolute emergencies that may warrant this, although there are usually safer options, but that requires some effort; however, I know so many people that go into credit card debt buying the stupid sh** mentioned above.  Again, you won’t get any sympathy from me.

“I’d be much better off if it wasn’t for all these taxes”

If you paid no taxes at all, you would be in the exact same situation.  All that extra money would end up going towards buying more useless crap for yourself, I’m just being real.  And I don’t buy the “rich people should pay more taxes”.  They already pay significantly more taxes than you do, and why? Most wealthy individual busted their butts to get where they are today, and they have to pay more in taxes because lazy people are envious.  Yes, there are exception, for example, the son that inherits his father’s assets, okay, but that doesn’t make up the majority.  I can’t remember where I read this, my apologies, but if all the wealth was taken and distributed evenly to all people today, within 5 years, it would all be back where it was originally.  This is because some people are willing to put for the effort and work hard, and also make sound financial decisions, others, not so much.

“The ‘system’ is keeping me down”

You’re keeping yourself down because you are lazy.  Everyone I know, that complains about not making enough money, goes home at the end of their shift and plops down on the couch and watches TV or plays video games, and eats.  Do you really think things are going to magically change for the better?  This is one of the greatest things about America: you are in full control of your own destiny, for real.  Don’t buy into the lie that the system prevents you from doing just that.  It’s important to remember: you only get what you put into it.  You need to actually put forth an effort.

“If only my boss paid me more”

This is the fun part about a free market.  You can go somewhere else.  If you are not getting paid what you think you should, there are two possible reasons: 1. You are a crap employee, but have somehow convinced yourself you are God’s gift to the company…  2. You’re employer sucks, so you should find a new one.  If I’m an employer, and no one wants to work for me, it will clue me in that perhaps I do not pay enough for the work being done, or I just suck in general.  The people that are most successful at my work are going above and beyond to help the company.  How can you possibly say that, you deserve more, when you are sitting in the break room complaining how unfair it is?!

Conclusion and Concession

If you want to succeed, quit being lazy; also, do a little research on proper money management; it will go a long ways. If people followed these two simple ideas, I truly believe that we would see a significant drop in the infamous “wealth gap”.  I’d love to be proven wrong, so why not try it out first before calling me an idiot.  I am willing to concede this: there people out there that truly have been dealt a losing hand, and we need to do our part to help them, but I refuse to help those that are not willing to help themselves.  You reap what you sow.

-Jon

 

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What has happened to the media?

The Current State

The media is in an absolutely abysmal state, and has been on a steady decline the last decade or so.  The recent political climate has made things worse and has all but confirmed any suspicions I had that the media was not on the up and up.  Previously, my only major complaint about the media was how they always seemed focused on covering only the most shocking stories.  Over time this evolved into news agencies exaggerating facts to increase the shock factor on otherwise mundane events/issues.  I learned to take every news story with a grain of salt, assuming they were engaging in what I previously mentioned, but now I am seeing news agencies display obvious biases and agendas; some even outright stating that was the case.  I rarely see objective, informative articles/stories, but rather a seemingly endless stream of throwaway reporting.  I’m genuinely surprised when I come across a coherent article or story with the sole objective of informing me of current events.  Today’s journalism is comparable to two five-year-olds arguing about who the best super hero is.

Where did the decline start?

In the beginning, journalism was about providing accurate, informative information about current events.  The real source of competition was seeing who could provide the most information, and who could provide it the fastest.  I feel that with the rapid improvement in technology, most news agencies were closing the time gap.  With everyone reporting the same things at the same time, they had to find a way to distinguish themselves from one another.

What would you rather hear about; the start of a new local food bank? or a train derailment?  I think a vast majority would prefer the latter; the reason why is a question for another day.  Now news agencies were looking for the most shocking stories to cover.  I think it was at this point, when I was younger, that I realized that a large portion of the news was negative.  For every story with a happier tone, there were four more stories covering things such as traffic accidents, crimes, scandals, etc..  Now this sort of constant negative reporting can really bring people down, but the fact of the matter is that the world is full of these terrible things, so although it was mostly negative, it was at least accurate.

A Turn for the Worse

The big turning point came next with the introduction of hyperbole into the media.  To set themselves apart from the competition, news agencies began finding any small hint of a potential story, and completely blowing things out of proportion.  A small fire at a local restaurant suddenly turned into blazing inferno at a local restaurant.  And one of the worst things, in my opinion, was when people accused, but not convicted of crimes were having their names and pictures thrown around without care.  I don’t even want to know how many individuals lives were ruined as a result of reckless journalism.  And it’s disturbing that this is still considered acceptable.

Where are we now?

Growing up I don’t remember news channels being labeled as right or left, they simply reported the news.  It’s safe to say that opinions have managed to work their way into reporting.  Glancing through today’s newspaper, I noticed the ‘opinion’ section and couldn’t help but laugh to myself.  Having an opinion section is all fine and dandy, but when it comes to reporting events, I only want to see the facts, I don’t care about opinion and neither should the journalist, unless of course they have been directed to do so.

Today’s reporting is sold to the highest bidder.  It is no longer objective, and it is clear that news reporting is used to bolster, or more typically, tear down an individual, group of people, corporation, etc.. Everyone seems to have their own agendas now.  The integrity of journalism is almost non-existent.  I don’t even know where to go for reliable, unbiased news anymore.  I’m always welcome to suggestions.  I had confidence in sources such as Reuters, BBC, and Al-Jazeera, but these last few months have made me lose almost all faith in these as well.

Can the media be saved?

In short, no.  It is already too far gone.  It has already convinced itself that what it is doing is acceptable.  I think now we need to look to each other for reliable information.  I want to encourage freelance journalism, but please for the sake of humanity, make reliability and objectivity you only goals.  If you’re going to provide any opinion, be sure to be forthcoming about it.  Eventually, people will realize that today’s media is a sham and will have to turn somewhere for their news.  I hoping that by then, we will have groups of people that have restored journalism to what it once was.

-Jon