Friday, January 22, 2010

My Opinions - Worthy or Worthless

Well the assignment this week on the Spin Cycle is opinions.  Whoa!  I am very opinionated, but usually I keep my opinions within these four walls.  But if you get me going, I will give my uninformed, less than stellar and sometimes incoherent opinions to whomever wants to hear.   I in return will courteously listen to others offering an opinion all the while thinking, "But you didn't acknowledge my point."

Any-who, here goes.

When did it happen?  It used to be that saving money was suppose to be a good thing.  They were chastising us for not saving enough less than a decade ago. Or was that just a quaint 20th century notion?  We weren’t saving for our kids’ college funds, or for a rainy day and definitely not enough for our retirement. 

When did it happen? It used to be that we knew how much house we could afford?  We knew that a car should not cost as much as a house, or half as much as a house, or a third as much as a house.

When did it happen?  We used to have patience, saving for the new couch, pinching pennies to buy the new dress. We were willing to wait making our purchases special occasions.

When did it happen, that credit became our lifeline? We used to know that credit should not cost as much as a house, or half as much, or even a fifth of a house, or even a ... 

When did it happen? It used to be that we knew not to use our house as a commodity.  We turned our dream of owning a home into a scheme for making quick money. We used to protect our homestead instead of draining it. When you turn life’s necessities into commodities, you’re asking for trouble.

My credit card company just sent me a letter telling me that they were lowering my credit line.  At first I was angry.  Because the way credit is working these days, I know that their action would lower my credit score. Imagine, a non-entity affecting your worth.  Bastards!

The letter said, since I use so little of the credit available to me, that obviously I didn’t really need that high of a limit.  I realized that they were correct.  It meant that they were either punishing me for not getting myself into trouble, or that they were actually pulling it back to where it should have been all along.  All I could think was screw them. 

Slowly throughout the years, the worth of brick and mortar industries have been reduced and transformed to judging their worth based on paper only and the betting and odds given on the worth or health of that paper.  Since we are running out of these types of commodities, there is a need to seek other avenues of profit and worth.

Real estate, at first an unlikely area for speculation, has now been ravished and decimated much like locust descending upon the plain. My sister lost her home and my niece is about to walk away from hers. She can’t get the bank to work with them.  I can see why people abandon their loans, because the industry abandoned their customers long ago.

Really people, bundling mortgages or portion of mortgages and selling them as paper and speculating on them was irresponsible, open to all kinds of illicit activities and stupid, on any plane of existence.

The only other big industry left for speculation, that I can see, is health care. Insurance companies already do this when they try to predict, speculate and lay odds on how long we will live or whether there will ever be a need for a payout.  What we do next regarding health care can be a big step forward for society or end up like real estate, laying in waste, boarded up, and people experiencing the same and very real abandonment issues.

What’s next?   Us.  We are turning into the commodity that everyone wants to bundle.  Our habits are studied extensively. The technology is here to help.  Advertisers, politicians, industries hire ethicists, psychologists, behaviorists to figure out what people will do next, to help predict and then to speculate and bet on the odds. I hope that they will always underestimate us.

I feel like I’m turning into paper.  I’m not kidding myself that it hasn’t been happening for a long time. I won’t need to ask, “When did it happen?”  I know.   I hope that when that time comes I can just say, “Screw them!” and walk away.

Now onto Sprite's Keeper to get more opinions that you can sink your teeth into. Yes they are that meaty.


Sprite's Keeper said...

Wonderful Spin! John and I have stopped using credit cards for anything and choose to save for any purchases now instead of using the big bad credit card. So far, so great! We're loving the financial freedom from having to be tied to the bills and can't wait to pay our house off. (a good decade away, but not 25 like we thought!) You're linked and I share a lot of your opinions!

Stacy (the Random Cool Chick) said...

Excellent Spin! When did it happen? :) Things really have changed over the years, haven't they? Some friends of ours had a really high limit credit card that they rarely ever used - so they got a similar letter about lowering their credit limit on the card. Ticked her off so much she canceled the card and got one from a different place - with a higher limit and lower interest - so her credit score wouldn't be affected. ;)

jpooh said...

Bless your heart, woman - have you considered running for office? I'd vote for you!


Jan from the Sushi Bar

Ellie Belen said...

Jen, good for you and John. I paid off my home in ten years instead of fifteen and believe me, cash flow is sooo much easier to handle.

Stacy, thank you for the great tip about getting another card. Makes total sense.

jpooh, I don't think I would ever consider that move. I hate myself enough at times, I don't want to add being a politician to the list. Then I couldn't stand listening to myself.

Chris said...

Amen, sister! I remember my mother putting things on lay-away. Necessary things, like a winter coat, or boots. She saved, planned ahead, started a Christmas fund at the bank in June so she could buy modest gifts for her children when December rolled around. Great post!

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