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Remember the old rock classic, "C'mon Baby Let the Good Times Roll?" That expression became an anthem for American consumers in the ‘90’s. The U.S. economy was “on a roll” and most people hopped aboard that train. Now, in what seems like an overnight occurrence, the good times choo choo is headed down an incline at an ever-accelerating speed. What does that mean for you? How much do you understand about your own personal resources? Are you good at curbing spending and actually saving? What are your expectations for the future? Are you prepared to make any sacrifices in order to protect your financial stability? These are questions worth asking ourselves, regardless of external circumstances. However, it is easy to be lulled into a false sense of security and not giving much thought to those issues is simply human nature. President Truman kept a paperweight on his desk in the Oval Office, which stated, “The buck stops here.”
It may be a timely juncture for many of us to consider where our “buck stops.” In fact, we would probably be well served by shelving the “C’mon Baby Let the Good Times Roll?” lyrics with something from the ‘80’s. “Brother, Can You Spare A Dime,” The Depression Era song, reminds us of a sort of desperation we no longer have to fear. Take your choice:
“That Was Yesterday” by, Foreigner.
“But that was yesterday, I had the world in my hands,
“Do You Really Want to Hurt Me” by Culture Club.
“Read 'em and Weep” by Barry Manilow
"Don't Worry, Be Happy” by Bobby McFerrin
Now that we’ve had a little fun, it’s important to take a serious look at this situation. Some of the traditional prophets are beginning to sound a note of caution. Most recently, the following was released:
Job Losses Cause Drop in Consumer Confidence -- The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index, which declined last month, dipped again in August. The Consumer Confidence Survey is based on a representative sample of 5,000 U.S. households. The monthly survey is conducted for The Conference Board by NFO World Group, a member of The Interpublic Group of Companies. "The deteriorating U.S. job market dampened consumer spirits this month," says Lynn Franco, Director of The Conference Board’s Consumer Research Center. "This suggests rising unemployment ahead. The nation’s employment and unemployment numbers now bear watching, since continued weakness in the job market could translate into slower consumer spending. "SLUGGISH JOB MARKET CREATING CONCERN--Consumers are now less optimistic about ongoing economic conditions than they were in July. More families say current business conditions are "bad" - 14.9 percent now, compared with 14.6 percent a month ago. Those rating conditions as "good" declined slightly, from 28.5 percent to 28.2 percent. But the job market has begun to unsettle consumers. Those claiming jobs were "hard to get" rose from 14.1 percent to 15.9 percent. Those reporting jobs were "plentiful" fell from 35.6 percent to 33.4 percent. Consumers were a little more optimistic about business conditions for the next six months. Those expecting an improvement in business conditions increased from 17.2 percent to 18.9 percent. The percent of consumers expecting economic conditions to weaken declined from 11.2 percent to 10.7 percent. The employment outlook for the next six months was mixed. Currently, 16.0 percent of consumers expect more jobs to become available, up from 15.0 percent last month. But those expecting fewer jobs through the end of this year advanced from 16.4 percent to 17.8 percent. Slightly more American families are expecting their incomes to rise: 22.4 percent are anticipating larger paychecks six months from now, up from 22.1 percent last month. For further information, visit the Consumer Research Center Website: www.consumerresearchcenter.org
Raw Data Available At: www.tcb-indicators.org
OK-if your eyes haven’t glazed over and you haven’t nodded off, consider these steps as potential tools for assessing your financial status now and your plans for the future:
A portfolio-do you have stocks/bonds/or other investments? Have you recently reviewed the advisability of your current selections? If you don’t have any type savings plan, what might be the most appropriate for you at this time? Some fund managers will supply potential clients with a questionnaire that takes into consideration your age, gender, earning capacity, etc. which can offer insights and guidelines based on your present circumstances.
Debts/Credit Cards-do you have them? What is/might their impact be on your overall fiscal picture?
What about a budget-are you using that approach now, and if not, is it worth exploring?
Sample budget issues:
How many in your household
If you are reading this, you have access to almost limitless resources pertaining to all money matters. Using www.google.com we entered keywords “money saving tips” and instantly had 498,000 listings. Using the keywords “frugal living” supplied more than 93,000 listings. Just one word of warning-“if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.” Some economists are already predicting a positive turnaround soon. Let’s hope they’re right. Think of those prognostications as immaterial…this is a good exercise regardless of what the future holds. You can be a confident consumer if have done your homework!
“I have enough money to last me the rest of my life, unless I buy something.”
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