Blog 2236 – 12.03.2021
All About The Ben’s
I heard recently that the U.S. economy draws seventy percent of it’s energy from consumers. We are, the ninety-eight percent of us at least, like the people in the Matrix movie trilogy, plugged in at birth to be the batteries that power this matrix, this goods and services economy.
Instead of being taught to save and watch our money we are taught to spend it and to watch our credit score, as if a high credit score were equivalent to real savings. Look at the misuse of that word in our day. We are made to believe that spending money is saving. Trust me, even Walmart who touts that they offer the lowest prices does not offer any real savings unless you count the in-store banking services in most Walmart stores.
My dear departed dad tried very hard to teach my brother and me to save a small portion of all that came to us. Had we learned and practiced that lesson from an early age we would both be far richer than we are today. Many folks in the U.S. have no other retirement plan than “winning the lottery.” The sad news is that even the few who do win the lottery have fallen so victim to our consumer culture that even the millions they win will slip through their fingers as the expression goes, “so fast it would make your head swim.”
The ole fashioned way to amass a fortune is like the moral of the tortoise and the hare fable – slow and steady wins the race. A small percentage can amount to a great deal over time, hence the charity campaigns attempts to get us to let them keep our change to support this or that. A good steward of their money would refuse as a matter of course choosing to give their hard money, if at all, only to causes they knew received way more than just cents on the dollar of their contributions. Look them up on-line, you will be surprised at how very little actually goes to the expressed need at even the most well-known charities. But, I digress as I usually do and so well.
Begin today, if you have not already done so, to pay yourself first. By figuring out a way to save a little of everything you make or that comes to you. I suggest you try to have some of your paycheck automatically put into a savings account or in an as secure as possible investment account. But, be wary that the stock market is also a big casino where the house always wins and not the players so much. Gold and silver are pretty safe bets and it is always good, though the banks disagree, to have a nice cash stash.
Here are three little tricks that I have employed that have helped me to turn even my ingrained urge to consume into a real savings vehicle:
1. I pay for most everything I buy with cash. My pay including my retirement income is all direct deposited so to have cash to spend, once or twice a week I shop at stores that offer the cash back option when you pay with a bank card. I steer clear of places who charge for that option as my goal is to pay myself a little extra, not them. (Dealing with cash gives you the added benefit of not only feeling rich with real money in your pocket to spend however you wish, but it also let’s you watch where it goes and how fast.)
2. I keep my change (quarters, nickels, pennies, and dimes.) If I donate to any person or cause that is a well thought out decision and I never give anyone my spare change. They’d really rather have a dollar or more anyway. I roll my coins and as soon as I have a hundred dollars worth I take it to the bank and change it to a hundred dollar bill. I have taught myself that every hundred dollar bill that comes into my hands is “mine” and I save them and do not turn loose of them except in dire circumstances or to trade them for silver or gold to hold on to.
3. I found it was taking too long to save enough coins for a Benjamin and that I rarely if ever got one in change so I decided first of all to start saving one dollar bills that had a D for Denver printed stamp on them, the D in my case standing for David. To make my pile of cash grow faster into a Benjamin I soon decided every Abraham Lincoln I got in change was also mine. They add up a lot faster. Over time I have added six other letters besides D that I look for on dollar bills to hold on to. Once or twice a month now for some time, I go to the bank not to withdraw cash, but to have coins, dollars, and fives turned into a Ben to hold on to.
Many of you will come up with your own little tricks to teach yourself to pay yourself first. I used to hate paying monthly bills, but then when I started seeing those balance go down to zero it got to be more fun. I did not tear up those credit cards, but still use some of them for convenience, a couple of gas cards, bank cards, and even credit cards but I use their money interest free buy paying the small balances monthly before any interest is attached. I no longer use card that charge an annual fee. I try to use the ones who pass the least fee on the merchant. That is I think the responsible thing to do, saving money not just for me but for those I do business with.
Today’s encouraging word is Save. I no longer believe that anyone needs to be “saved” but I have come to believe that money is meant to be saved as well as spent. I pay myself first. Try it, you’ll like the results.
Your friend and fellow traveler,