Sunday, February 25, 2007

Getting Poor & A Personal Wealth Strategy

_The numbers are out and the picture is not pretty. There are more folks in the poverty line. What's more, if we're really honest, many of us are just a paycheck or two away from financial hardship. A sudden illness, loss of job or other personal problems (G-d forbid) could dramatically disrupt our relative grip on financial comfort and stability. Those thoughts disturb my sleep.


And it's not just a nightmare. The Miami Herald reports that:

'The percentage of poor Americans who are living in severe poverty has reached a 32-year high, millions of working Americans are falling closer to the poverty line, and the gulf between the nation's ''haves'' and ''have-nots'' continues to widen.

A McClatchy Newspapers analysis of 2005 census figures, the latest available, found that nearly 16 million Americans are living in deep or severe poverty.'



Oddly, enough the spike in poverty parallels a spike in corporate earnings, the Herald reported today.
'The plight of the severely poor is a distressing sidebar to an unusual economic expansion. Worker productivity has increased dramatically since the brief recession of 2001, but wages and job growth have lagged behind.

At the same time, the share of national income going to corporate profits has dwarfed the amount going to wages and salaries.

That helps explain why the median household income of working-age families, adjusted for inflation, has fallen for five straight years


....since 2000, the number of severely poor has grown ''more than any other segment of the population,'' according to a recent study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine' -- Miami Herald


I'm not wealthy, but I live in relative comfort. What's more, I have the safety net of a loving and generous family. Yet, with all those blessings, I feel the pinch of reality in our paycheck-to-paycheck economy. To help me sleep better at nights, I have put together a strategy for maintaining a healthy personal balance sheet.


1. Diversify income sources. A business with just one major customer is vulnerable to the whims and financial fortunes of that customer. Likewise, a worker with just one income stream is overly dependent on that employer, venture or contract.

2. Save, save, save. The importance of emergency funds is often stressed by many bloggers. I'm committed to building a $10,000 emergency fund. I like to go to pfblogs.org to search and study the emergency fund plans of other bloggers. There are so many excellent posts on the topic.

3. Live frugally. Over the last few years, I've cut a lot of excess expenditures from my budget. I will continue to do so.

4. Commit to continued education: I've made a dedicated push to stay informed of major changes in my industry and in the world of finance. I will also continue to upgrade my technology skills.

5. Give to charity. I have enough to share. It's good karma to give. Generosity makes me feel wealthy, even if I only have a quarter or a dollar to share.

6. Hunt for passive income: Days are short and my to-do list is long. I need to find more ways to make my money work for me when I am asleep.
______________

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1 comment:

Clever Dude said...

I would submit the idea that the "haves" don't really have all that much. I would probably be considered in that group, but the only reason I have 2 new cars, a decent house (with a pool) near DC, and whatever other junk I own is because it was all purchased on credit.

The "have-nots" either can't get credit or don't have incomes. They try to have (no job, but they got cellphones and cable TV), but they're WAY in over their heads. However, until I get my debt paid off, I'm only a couple paychecks away from being a "have-not"