Sunday, December 27, 2009

What's Your Pocket Feeling Like Now?

Okay - so, Christmas is past, kids are happy and grateful. Or not. Most of us have either returned to work or will return on tomorrow. How is your pocket feeling?

I am wondering because I read a Reuters report that said 4 million Britons are still repaying last years Christmas debt. That is 1 in 10 Britons. I also heard a similar report on CNN regarding Americans. We continue to go into debt in November and December, and then begin to try and dig out in January and February - and are still digging the following year.

In addition to the crummy economy, Americans were spending this Christmas holiday - but not as much as the media would like us to believe. You wanna know what I base this comment on? Alley Observance. Drive down any alley in your neighborhood and I bet you will have the same report as I - not nearly as many empty boxes and overflowing big greens as last Christmas or the one before. That is the real report on Christmas spending.

But, spend we did. We still, even in this day and age, have to buy expensive material items at Christmas time to prove to our children and loved ones that we will go into debt because of our love for them. Or to prove to our neighbors that we 'got it like that'. I want my neighbors to know that they win that game. Because in January of this year and next - I want to be planning a quality time vacation with my kids in the Spring and Summer, not how I can pay 40-400% on loan shark credit cards, quick cash loans, and bank fees because I had to show my kids the newest gadget with love on December 25th.

We really have to stop playing possum at our own economic lynching party.

Yes, our economy is 2/3 dependent on consumer spending. But, believe it or not, as economist will tell you, right now, our economy is dependent on healthy consumers. So, we need to save and be economically healthy enough to spend, more than we need to spend back into debt crisis.

Here are a few phenomenon that gave me pause for thought:

Bank Fees - When a check is returned for NSF - the bank charges you one hefty fee; and then after a certain number of days, a daily fee until the account is restored to a positive balance. However, the set-up is that when you use your debit card, which is like writing an electronic check, unless you are forced to enter your pin code in the transaction, the processing is not immediate. In this way, all of the processing can be done at one time, and the order of processing is determined by the bank. This leads to a processing routine that allows the bank to push through the transactions in a manner to collect the highest number of fees from the consumer. Legal Loan Sharking.

Credit Card Fees - We know that federal regulation is already in place, and probably more is coming, to regulate credit card fees. The reason is that these fees are out of control. This is another capitalist unregulated venture that is financially raping Americans, and is part of the reason we are in the economic pit right now. Easy credit at insane rates. Legal Loan Sharking.

IRS - Right now, you are apt to recieve a letter from the IRS concerning taxes from 2-4 years ago, and a slight error you may have made in your calculation (or whomever compiled your tax return). That error could potentially cost you from a few hundred to thousands of dollars. The IRS has the right to go back and 'review' your taxes for errors and possible unreported income and then harrass you for supposed owed funds and interest on those funds, since you should have caught that error back then. This is not even legal loan sharking. This is a legal shakedown and harrasment of the American citizen.

I don't know if any of this causes you to stop and say woooah! But I think I am saving my money and using the old fashioned system of checks, check register, checks and balances, and entering that pin code at every transaction.

And as far as proving my love with material gifts in December? I have learned - and learning is a process - that I show my peoples love all year long. I told my children that Jesus was gifted thrice upon His humble arrival in a stable. He saved my life - which they cannot do - be happy about those three gifts they are allowed to request, and lets make Christmas about loving each other and giving hope to somebody else. So far, we have enjoyed that immensely.

This money thing? Let's blog about it.....

1 comment:

  1. I 100% agree. Christmas is not about how much money you spend on gifts. It is, like you stated, Christmas is a gift in and of itself and should be treated as such instead of commercialized as it is today. Me, myself...I refuse to be sucked into the hoopla of spreading my hard earned dollars out there just for the sake of one day, when the "gift" is available to me every single day. Whether you choose to acknowledge that gift on that one day, Christmas, or everyday...its up to you.

    As far as legal loan sharking… Let’s start with the bank fees. It is plain ridiculous to charge one huge fee then daily fees on top of it. My thinking is if you couldn’t pay the original fee, what makes the bank think that you can pay the daily fees they compound on top of it. If it’s not paid, you run the risk of having the account closed out, collections, then to Chex systems, which will block you from getting another account elsewhere until its paid. Oh, and then it sits on your credit! Of all places that it could go, you definitely don’t want it on your credit! It is a nightmare getting it cleaned off or even tagged as being paid, so when companies pull your credit; there it is, big as day….UNPAID, when you know you paid it. It could and mostly likely result in you getting denied. SO was that one Christmas day worth the credit denial you received?

    Credit card fees are another hassle. For the people who can barely afford to pay their bills, it is downright robbery and a lifesaver at the same time! First and foremost, credit card companies target those people that are on the fence with one foot in the streets to homelessness and living paycheck to paycheck. When they have a credit card, they can maybe pay a bill or two... but the price in interest is the seal that breaks the deal. 20-25% or higher in interest?? No wonder they are in debt! Ppl who have $ get to avoid this trap. But they are worthless to the credit card companies because they usually pay their bills in full each month, denying the companies any chance to make any money from interest off of them. The middle class, poor and under privileged are the ones that are carrying the debt in this ordeal because we aren’t able to pay it off in the same manner.

    Because it’s Christmas, and we haven’t been able to give the gifts or things that we like to either have or share…what do we do?? We go out and get the cash advances, run our credit cards to the max and suffer numerous NSF's and daily fees. Insane?

    And lastly, the IRS, the legal shakedown... harassment at its best! Yes, they can and do go back on you in prior years. I have yet to figure out what makes them pick you in the first place, but once they get on you…believe me you will be watched for a couple of years, so they can get you again. I have a personal example... about 4 years ago I worked for a temp service. I never rec’d a W-2 from them. I could not locate them anymore because they either moved to a new unlisted location or closed down. So, I did my taxes as I would have normally done and did not include them as I had no figures to report and about 2 years later I get this letter in the mail stating I owe because I didn’t report the additional income! The funny and sad part about it is that they sent me this letter right after I had just filed and got my income taxes check directly deposited in my checking account! So here they were sitting on this info, but STILL paid me and did not take out the amount that they claimed I owed… Now why is that? Why didn’t they just deduct it from what they paid me? I’ll tell you why. INTEREST!! They want to collect even more interest than had already accumulated on the unpaid balance that is due to them. They also probably know that not many of us have disposable income to squeeze out an extra payment to them…so it sits and accumulates…. Legal Shakedown at its finest! What can you do? Nothing as far as I know except find a way to pay it or get garnished in the long run for a whole lot more than what you actually owe!

    Ahhh Christmas!


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