Are you in control?

“They used to call me valued customer, now they are sending me hate mail.”


Becky Bloomwood Confessions of a Shopaholic

Every year, 1½ million Americans file for bankruptcy.

Imagine a widow with infant triplets who renews her health insurance policy the minute her old policy expires. She can’t get an internet connection, and she doesn’t want to risk being uninsured, so she gets up from the chair, only to trip over the power cord and fall headfirst onto a hardwood floor. She breaks 8 teeth and dislodges her lower vertebrae, requiring tens of thousands of dollars of dental work, surgery and rehab. She works as a model, so now she can’t draw a paycheck for the year. Two years ago, her husband died when he happened to be driving along a faultline as an 8.0 earthquake hit, so his life insurance didn’t pay out because it was an Act of God. The triplets’ grandparents all live in the Czech Republic, and the woman lives on a ranch in southern Oregon, miles from any neighbor who could help her get back on her feet. So she declares bankruptcy.

How many of last year’s bankruptcy claimants have similar stories, and how many bought too much junk on credit and never bothered to budget?

This might not sound kind, but most people in bad financial straits are there because they chose to be. Not in the sense that they said “I can’t wait to be broke,” but in that when they were buying cars with 8.9% financing and spending $100 a week on cigarettes, they didn’t think about where it would inevitably lead.

No one wants to die in a car accident, but if you drive through enough stop signs while talking on the phone, you can’t be surprised if it happens. (Of course you can’t be surprised, the part of your brain that senses surprise[1] is now on the asphalt next to your cerebrum and your hippocampus.)

Personal responsibility is neither quaint nor outmoded. When enough people fail to exercise it, it leads to macroeconomic calamity. Of all the financial disasters of the last few years – the subprime mortgage crisis, the monster budget deficit, the stock market losing half its value, centuries-old investment banks going out of business – every last one happened because people who could have taken responsibility for their money chose to do something else instead.


“People tell you life is short. Life is long. Especially if you make the wrong decisions.”

-Chris Rock

Come check out Control Your Cash for one reason: your relationship with money is almost certainly dysfunctional. You don’t know what you don’t know, probably because nobody ever taught you.

Join, read, comment, share ideas. You can stop letting money act on you – and actually take charge of it.

[1] The amygdala, if you care.


A good week for bad decisions

“The history of free men is never really written by chance but by choice – their choice

-Dwight D. Eisenhower


The week began with chatter about the need to provide health insurance to uninsured Americans.  Few mentioned the 17 million people* who earn enough money to pay for health insurance but don’t.  Many of those uninsured chose to buy a bigger car, house, TV, or vacation.

Many of these people are making an informed choice based on their age and health risks.  If they get sick, they’ll have to pay the cost and might end up financially devastated.  Others game the system, knowing that if they show up at the emergency room, they’ll be treated.  This is not a crisis; it’s a lack of sound decision-making.

On Wednesday convicted felon Michael Vick announced that he’ll be paid $1.5 million to play for the Philadelphia Eagles. While he quarterbacked for the Atlanta Falcons, he ran a dog fighting enterprise.  Dating hot chicks, driving fast cars & being the envy of most men is hardly enough, when there are innocent dogs to be killed, raped & maimed.

After filming a few public service announcements for the SPCA, Vick is a new man.  Rehabilitated & ready to play while his victims live under court-ordered detention.

The British government has announced the impending release of the only man convicted in the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie. Abdel al-Megrahi and his co-conspirators murdered the 201 passengers and crew on board the Boeing 747 in December 1988 but, thanks to Libya’s protection, he wasn’t convicted until 2001.  al-Megrahi has incurable cancer and apparently has a few months to live.  The British government believes letting al-Megrahi return to Libya in time for Ramadan  is the compassionate thing to do.

Letting those passengers on Pan Am 103 tumble out of the sky to die alone & afraid shows how compassionate al-Megrahi is. And, let’s not forget that fact that he evaded capture for 13 years.

On Friday Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme was released from prison after serving over 30 years for attempted to kill Gerald Ford.  She was serving a “life” sentence and had previously walked out of prison.

Fromme has never expressed sorrow, and continues to admire and correspond with her guru, Charles Manson.  Fromme didn’t even request parole; it was automatically granted after 30 years.

All of these stories were front-page news.  Shouldn’t we save our energy, money & compassion for those who deserve it?

What about the diabetic who lost his job and can’t get insurance because of his pre-existing condition?

The student who’s working 2 jobs to pay her tuition?

Or the family next door that gave up a car to make the mortgage payment?

Why aren’t there ever any front-page stories about these people?  They’re the people that make America strong.

Let’s stop rewarding poor decisions and start recognizing the good ones.

*If the government doesn’t have to admit that its “49 million insured” number is a flat-out guess, neither do I.

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Too much government

Check it out for yourself:

Just scroll through the list of government agencies and tell me that bigger is better.