The Economy

I will admit that when I first started to hear about the housing crisis and possible recession I was a bit naive. Okay, very naive. The financial crisis was going to have a big impact, but it couldn't possibly affect me. After all I don't own a house, I rent! I couldn't even lose much money in my 401K because I had only been contributing for 9 months.

Then things started getting worse. Gas prices spiked and getting loans got trickier. Despite all this I still thought I'd be okay. Until student loans hit...

You see, it has come to my attention that I am not as good as managing my money as I thought. I pay my bills on time and try to make more than the minimum payment, but it isn't always enough. Ever since college I've had a tendency to live above my pay grade. If I could "afford" to go to Spring Break and pay off my credit card in a few months what was the harm? I hadn't gone shopping in months. I work hard, I deserve a shopping spree. I graduated college, I not only deserve, I need a new car!

Sidebar - To be fair I did try to find a used Mazda3, but there weren't any available with all the features I wanted and in the right color... Okay, I had no excuse.

The thing is once you add up all the vacations, shopping excursions, new car and students loans I am left with a sizable amount of debt.

The solution? After the grace period lapsed on my school loans I requested a forbearance for a year. At that point I already had a second job and adding another bill was not an option. Ten months later student loans were coming and it was time to stop procrastinating and start consolidating. As you can imagine, this is where the credit crisis started to bite me in the ass. No one would consolidate my loans, so I am left with three monthly payments.

Today I am struggling, like the majority of Americans, to keep my head above water. (It's a good thing my parents are thrilled with home made CD's for Christmas.) I know a lot of people want to blame the financial institutions and auto companies for their failings, and I agree, but I think the American people need to take some of the blame too. After all, it's my fault I owe $5,000 to my credit card company. It's my fault I bought a new car without considering how much it would really cost each month once you factor in insurance and maintenance.

While I feel for families whose homes are in foreclosure they had a hand in putting themselves there. The financial institutions should have made better decisions and the auto makers need to be wise enough to run stronger business models.

I guess what I'm saying is that we need to stop pointing fingers and admit that we as a nation have collectively fucked up. We have all been living above our pay grades. Whether it's the CEO who tried to make the stock or home more valuable, the family who bought a house they couldn't afford or a college student who went on spring break, we've all been financially irresponsible and it's time to face the music. The government, businesses and individual people need to help one another get back on track.

Personally, I don't like the term "bail out." It sounds too much like a hand out, and Americans don't take hand outs. At least that's what Denny Crane would say. Instead, we all need a helping hand. The financial institutions, auto companies, families who no longer have a place to stay, recent graduates and current students who can barely afford an education and the millions of people who have lost their jobs. Our government needs to provide that helping hand, and in doing so they need to do more than hand us a blank check.

In return I'm going to do my part to be more fiscally responsible. Are you?

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