Wednesday, November 4, 2015

End of the Overdraft

It is estimated that Americans spend $24B every year on overdraft fees. That is humongous!  H&R Block is only offering to find you $1B and yet there is so much more just being tossed away by citizens not being good stewards of their resources. I absolutely hate overdraft fees and other penalty fees charged by our financial institutions but I understand they can't just cover my lack of discipline without a cost.  Recently, new products have begun to enter the market that allow you to transact business but don't allow you to incur an overdraft. Thank you to the loadable debit card to save us from overdraft fees. A loadable debit card allows you to access your money at stores by swiping it like any other card and doesn't allow you to go negative. 

Finally a product that will save us from ourselves. Now when I am out of money I HAVE to stop spending and that can be a good thing. If I can't discipline myself, a product can do it for me. It's kind of like those meal plans dieters can purchase so they know how much and what they can eat. 

There is a huge downside to debit cards like this. They don't generally have a mechanism for saving money. At the end of the month, if it didn't spend it all, it is there for the next month. I never start building any significant assets for that next emergency, to repair my car, to pay for college or to make a down payment on a home. You have to specifically establish a savings account and earmark money to go to it. Ideally, deposits to savings should come right off the top when you get paid through automatic deposit from your employer. Savings accounts have been around a long time and are so under appreciated, especially in an era of low interest. The beauty of the savings account is not that it puts interest (though it is great when you can get it). The beauty is that it is separate from the monthly spending. You remove some of the temptation to dip into the funds when they aren't right there in your transactional account. 

This week the Department of Education issued a ban to bank accounts offered on campus that have high fees and overdraft features attached to them. Too much of student loans are now channeled into paying for overdraft fees. This sends a clear signal that government is not afraid to exercise its influence to protect consumers from their own mismanagement. I wish the same kind of energy were devoted to equipping people to manage their money well and have more choices rather than fewer. It is only a matter of time before financial institutions create new fees so they can pay their staff and stay in business. The cost of operating the bank didn't go down because of the ban and consumers are not more informed because of it. Students will continue to do foolish things, it will just be some new enterprise benefitting. It is the nature of youth and the lack of training that will ensure this practice continues. 

Commercial enterprise has thrived by offering people more options and more choices. It shouldn't be the role of government to save us from ourselves, but if they want to get involved they should equip citizens with information and skill development so they never have to be victim of a scheme and they keep more money for themselves. Power to the people. 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Enjoying a day of rest

I have to confess - I like being busy. It makes me feel as if I am living with purpose and impacting my world for good. I think this is mostly a good thing but I also realize my propensity is to crowd my life with so much activity that I cannot stop to enjoy a sunset or a rainbow without throwing off the schedule I must keep. That is why I live these get aways with my husband. We get a chance to decompress, rest and just spend time reflecting and planning - not doing. I love camping with friends and getting to know them better but sometimes alone time is just what is needed. 

Yesterday the doggies and I walked up to the Endless Caverns sign on the side of theountain. This sign can be seen from miles away on I-81. It was a little more effort than I had put into a walk in a while but I felt accomplished when we were done. Later I took a second trip and brought Kenny with me. You can see him in the picture - very small by the letter D. 

Doggie walks, naps and just watching the sunset is just the ticket to rejuvenate this worn out soul!  

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Leaf Peeping at Endless Caverns

After a very full two weeks of non-stop running around I was overjoyed when Kenny suggested that we go to the mountains for some leaf peeping. The second week of November is a little past peak but there are still a few trees hanging on to their last leaves. I was really just looking forward to some "down" time. No schedule, no activity just  rest and relaxation. 

Our dogs Bea and Pru were so excited to go. They love the extra time for walking trails and sniffing new smells. Endless Caverns RV park is very rustic but has all the amenities you look for and the views can't be beat. Hope to take my camera with me today and capture a few. 

Strange looking plant. It had such fine stems it looked like a puff ball. 

Frost in the morning. 

Our campsite day one. The rock wall next to it made me nervous that the dogs could get hurt if they were tethered and Kenny couldn't get satellite for TV. He didn't wat to miss his football. 

When Kenny goes leaf peeping he doesn't stop until he finds the biggest of all. 

Monday, October 7, 2013

North Carolina high life

Camping in Franklin NC brought back find memories of when My hubby and I used to come to the area and explore. We took a day trip to see some of the beauty of the mountains. I wish I had a camera that could capture the grandeur of the mountains but I have just my cell camera. 

Just the same it was worth going up the windy roads to get a look again at the scenery. 
Just gorgeous views and a pleasant day trip with the love of my life. Happy 30th anniversary! 

Deciding to full time

About ten years ago I was so envious of full timers. I wanted to join in right then. Say goodbye to the madness of our culture and enjoy a life of simplicity and slower pace. My husband commented that I wouldn't be happy confined in a trailer and I told him, "you just watch me" and moved into the trailer parked next to our house. 

When I share that I live in our RV next to our house, people think we are very strange indeed. Now we are on a journey that will lead us to sell the house and adopt this life forever. This rally is to help us think through the decision carefully. 

Full timing is done in a myriad if ways. Some travel lots; some stay put.  Some park near family; some see all the sites. Lots of decisions to make. While I love the simplicity of full timing, there are anber of things that came up this weekend that make me a little hesitant. 

I got the sense that some people adopt this lifestyle to escape responsibility and work. My intent is not about escape. I want to remain engaged in life and I am not afraid of work. Some people go into this lifestyle without a plan for replacement of their RV or their tow. I would like to plan better. 

I am concerned about remaining in fellowship with committed believers. As an introvert, developing relationship is hard for me. I don't come by them easily and I don't want to give them up. My church is a big part of my life in addition to my personal time in fellowship with The Lord. I don't want to leave that behind. There are RV groups that operate in local missions. It would not be the same but it might allow for fellowship. I don't know that hubby is in the same mindset however. 

Hubby has always found his sense of purpose in collecting things and taking on projects. RVing won't be a good lifestyle for that. He is already having difficulty letting go of his car collection. 
While we both want to full time we are still working in getting on the same page. 

I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am in. I know how to get along with humble means, I also know how to live in prosperity. I am looking to The Lord to order our steps and to give wisdom to my husband that he can lead our household well. 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Full timer Rally

Well we met two new friends on our way to the full timers rally with RV-Dreams in Franklin, NC. John and Nancy are planning on going full timing by the end of next year. Thanks to Carol our Holiday Rambler club member for introducing us 

Kenny and I are still getting over the virus we caught, but the views here are really distracting us from fully engaging in our pity party over our health. 


Our two basst hounds were real excited to learn they had won a free all expense paid trip to the rally. They are very interested to check out all the smells here. 

Howard and Linda rolled out the red carpet to welcome us. Linda even serenaded us before dinner.   Catered dinner was awesome and we are looking forward to learning all we can this weekend. 

Monday, June 24, 2013

Modern Day Slavery

When I consider the plight of our government spending, it is clear we have grown the expense side of the budget far more than our founding fathers intended. We now work nearly five months out of every year to pay our tax bill and that is just the federal government. 

As a teenager I dreamed of making my mark in the world by alleviating some of the suffering that so many experience. I now work in financial education helping families have greater control of their futures by taking responsibility for their choices today. 

What should be the role if charity has now been assumed by government.  Financial supports, food support, child care, health and housing have now all fallen to government funding. I will talk in another blogpost about the power that has been stolen from the taxpayer, but let me explore for a moment what has been done to the recipient. 

By relying on a system of government supports they have opened their personal lives to scrutiny. They must provide tax documents, pay stubs, etc to prove their need. They have been discouraged from making too much money for fear of disqualifying themselves from the flow they receive. They are provided with such meager provisions that they are forced to look for the next handout like a dog on a hunt. 

These families are often single mothers with young children dependent on this provision for their very livelihood and often not receiving adequate anything. In the City, I have visited housing projects that reek of sewage and overrun with filth. The medical care provided is often minimal - not designed for "health" but merely sustaining basic life. The financial and food supports are insufficient to provide healthy meals or basic necessities. 

These people have been relegated to reliving the life of slavery many once fought to overcome. This slavery is generational in that children and grandchildren grow up in dependence and that is what they know so it continues.  In order to continue to receive benefits they must abide by the rules. They must remain impoverished and they must endure intrusions that no free person should have to endure. 

The difference between then and now is that the dependence is not forced; it is learned and accepted voluntarily. Poor choices may have lead to the single parenthood or perhaps even thrust upon them by some fathers' irresponsibility, but there are opportunities to succeed in this country for those that will be willing to choose freedom over dependence and who will extend the great efforts needed to overcome the machine that robs them of their soul. 

America is a great country and there is still opportunity and for someone willing to take the challenge the rewards are great. Unfortunately so many living in these conditions don't believe this. 

I recently spoke with a grandmother who was bemoaning the cuts to Head Start programs claiming that the government was robbing her grandchild of the supports, socialization and instruction he needs to succeed. This grandmother sees that she needs to work only part time because he needs someone to care for him. Her schedule is organized around the mother's so that he has full time care. This grandmother didn't see her role to provide the success skills needed and didn't see any other option for childcare other than government provision. Her mindset has been so altered that she can't see the trap she is in. 

In our region, more than 1/2 of all children are born to single parents. It is a sad commentary that so many of these children are brought into unstable homes from the beginning but that is another blog. These children are more likely to have a mom who has meager education often not completing high school and relegated to entry level jobs if she works at all. While poor mate choices may have led to the condition there are those who have made their way out and have taken control of their lives. And what a model they have been for their children. 

Dependence is not merely relegated to the young. There are many seniors who find themselves trapped by government subsidies as well. They are trying to live on Social Security and Medicare and finding that they cannot sustain even basics with such provision. They live out their golden years in poverty because they depended on the government to prepare for their later years and had insufficient savings and investments or had an event that stole their security. 

I believe that there are too many that have given up their fight for freedom and have accepted the path of lesser resistance and in doing so have enslaved themselves to merely exist completely dependent on a government ill equipped to offer anything of real value. 

I believe that charity and personal responsibility can overcome this trap and that we can create for ourselves a better life than the government can design. I believe I can personally help another person to break themselves free and if all of us will encourage our neighbors to live free we can take back America and make her great again.