Entitlements??

February 6, 2020

I already know that I’m not going to make friends on this blog article. The word “entitlements” is charged without even knowing the perspective or specific contextual meaning. Usually, we use the term Entitlements to mean benefits that one earns through working and paying into a system such as for social security retirement or Medicare insurance. After working for 40 years, and paying for 40 credits (quarters), one earns the right to have benefits paid out in the form of a social benefit payment known as social security. However, if one is disabled and by definition can’t work, one is entitled to claim benefits after as little as five years. That is, in our great country, we pay people social security disability after just a few years of working versus the full 40 years if they are able bodied.

So why am I bringing this up? Well, I have a friend that wants to retire and is complaining that he might have to work a couple  more years rather than retire now in order to help his family – disabled sister and invalid Mom out for a bit. But let’s look a little deeper. The family has resources that they are not using or wish to keep for later. So rather than sell one of their two properties (a home in an affluent city neighborhood as well as a vacation home in the outer banks) to take care of the disparity in their finances, they want to just live off of the government. My friend is complaining that the amount of money that his sister gets from food stamps which was reduced from $300 per month to $260 is outrageous (as he puts it) and so unfair. This is in addition to the money she gets for social security disability. Now I certainly am sorry that she can’t work and that she is caring for her daughter and yes, it’s difficult to eat well on that money. But I can also tell you that I’ve gone through tough times in my life, when I was starting my life coaching business and was living pretty meagerly. Sometimes one has to do that. What I’m hearing from him is that his family doesn’t want to give up anything, and that the government should take up the slack. He’s furious with the President, since of course it’s all Trump’s fault for his current situation. If it were me, I’d sell one of the properties, accept that the vacation home is a luxury that isn’t affordable in the current climate and then live comfortably with the money one gains. No, unfortunately, he doesn’t agree (and I didn’t actually say that only thought it).

Why do people think the government should take care of everyone to such an extent that family should never have to help out? Who is the government but us individuals who pay taxes into a system? At what point are we paying for a lot of other people to live well because their families don’t want to help them? It all comes down to a bank account of ins and outs. I’ve saved all my life and in putting money away for a raining day I had to give up some meals out, some special activities that I didn’t attend, etc. I’ve watched this friend spend lots of money on special programs not giving any thought to whether he could really afford it or not. Where is it written that we have the RIGHT to fancy restaurant meals, Starbucks café coffees daily rather than as a special treat or other niceties?  We all have to make choices and it really irks me to listen to this guy complain about the current administration and how his problems are all due to the Government and not in his own financial management.  He also told me that he would have to figure out how to get his 88 year old Mom a car so his sister could drive her around. Perhaps Uber for the few trips would be more economical or a special ride program. Oh no, they’d never be able to drive up the long drive way. He has an answer for everything. Well, perhaps the big home they’re living in is no longer suitable for his Mom and sister. Again, they don’t want to make any changes. It’s easier to just blame everything on the government.

I’ve written about personal accountability before, but this is a bit different. We can’t expect the government to do EVERYTHING. I feel that his sister is getting a lot from the government. When I asked about the other services available to her, he just brushed me off. He knows I’m one of the millions of crazy people who actually voted for this President and who is very happy with this economy which is very much due to his economic policies. And that’s my side of the story.


Personal Accountability is the Way to Go

September 5, 2019

There is so much in the news lately about planning for retirement. We have at least 40 years to start putting some money away to take care of ourselves when we get older. Yes but you say, what about the current house, kids and bills? There just isn’t anything leftover. Well I disagree. I see how people spend their money. The kids have to have candy and soda at the movies or the parents have to have the next version of the iPad, cellphone or tablet. Perhaps it’s the necessity of eating lunch hour or going to Starbucks…

Yes you can enjoy your life when you’re young but one must pay the piper when they are finished playing as the saying goes. Whether its small change or dollars saved, there are ways to do it. Something has to be given up in order to have something later. Sorry but one cannot have their cake and eat it too. Why is it the government’s responsibility to provide for all that a person can’t pay for? I’m not talking about those truly in need. I give plenty to charity and believe in helping those less fortunate. I’m talking t people that get caught up in living the good life and then wonder why they are still working at 72 because they can’t retire….as they don’t have enough money to live on.

Let’s break this down. Daily Starbucks is $25 A week just for the world week. Then lunch is another $50 if it’s kept simple. What’s wrong with fixing a teabag in the office or a cup of coffee? And there are a ton of options to save money lunchtime from prepared meals from the store to actually making something or even just sandwiches from home. If one adds up 40 years of teabags and lunches from home we have lots of money. Ok not enough? Vacations once a year versus every holiday.. staycations can be fun too. An event locally can be fun and usually a lot less expensive than a quick trip to the Caribbean over  four day break. An exaggeration? Perhaps, but I know people like this…

I might be the exception but I took my lunch to work most days, ate a nice salad at the salad bar otherwise, was careful about electronic consumerism and was moderate about vacations. I paid extra on my mortgage to pay it off by retirement and saved yearly. I can now reap the benefits of the savings that I slowly put away year after year. In other words, I’m living the American dream. I worked my 40 years in a normal corporate job, saved my money and now can pay my bills and do a fair amount of travelling. I feel blessed that I have the money for doctor bills, household expenses and a trip here and there. Being in abundance by giving to charity means that God lets me keep the rest.

In summary, personal accountability is the way to go; slow and steady for 40 years not trying to screw the system in the last few years to make up for what you did or didn’t do all along. We pay into social security and Medicare so these are earned benefits not optional entitlements. That’s my version of the story and I’m sticking with it! Comments are always welcome.


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