I am glad we have a “fiscal cliff” to finally get some reduction in the future taxes both parties have been piling on with abandon the last few decades. When you have enormous spending beyond your income, as the USA has had the last few decades, cutting current taxes is just raising taxes on your grandchildren to pay for your spending. Shifting taxes to your grand children is not cutting taxes it is shifting them to future generations.
If you want to really cut taxes you must cut taxes and not pass on paying for your cuts to your kids. It seems pretty obvious those that advocating cutting current taxes the last few decades were only interested in living beyond their means today and foisting the responsibility to pay to their grandchildren. That is despicable behavior.
The fiscal cliff is an opportunity to return to a budget that has the generation doing the spending paying the taxes (last seen in the Clinton administration). The fiscal cliff outcome is going to be far from perfect. But the result will be a much more honorable outcome than foisting ever increasing taxes on future generations to pay for our current spending.
Obviously, if you reducing how much you are adding to your credit card balance each month and start paying your bills that means you don’t get to live off your future earnings today. So you will suffer today compared to continuing to tax the future to pay for your spending.
I hope the compromise results in spending cuts and an elimination of the Bush generation shifting taxes (cutting taxes on the the current wealthy without spending cuts – so just taxing the future to pay for tax cuts today). It is unlikely the fiscal cliff results in us actually paying for our spending (the best possible result is not an elimination of adding to the taxes future generations must pay but just a reduction in the level of tax increases we are imposing on the future every year).
Lots of little things should be done to save a few billion (maybe it could add up to $50 billion a year if we are very lucky). But the serious spending cuts have to come from reductions in military spending, reducing waste in the health care system and making social security more actuarially sensible (social security is not part of the fiscal cliff discussions though). Reducing tax breaks also has to happen, unless absolutely huge spending cuts can be found which is not at all likely.
Building your saving is largely about not very sexy actions. The point where most people fail is just not saving. It isn’t really about learning some tricky secret.
You can find yourself with pile of money without saving; if you win the lottery or inherit a few million from your rich relative via some tax dodge scheme like generation skipping trusts or charitable remainder trusts.
But the rest of us just have to do a pretty simple thing: save money. Then, keep saving money and invest that money sensibly. The key is saving money. The next key is not taking foolish risks. Getting fantastic returns is exciting but is not likely and the focus should be on lowering risk until you have enough savings to take risks with a portion of the portfolio.
My favorite tips along these lines are:
- spend less than you make
- save some of every raise you get
- save 10-15% of income for retirement
- add to any retirement account with employer matching (where say they add $500 for every $1,000 you put into your 401(k)
Spending less than you make and building up your long term savings puts you in the strongest personal finance position. These things matter much more than making a huge salary or getting fantastic investing returns some year. Avoiding risky investments is wise, and sure making great returns helps a great deal, but really just saving and investing in a boring manner puts you in great shape in the long run. Many of those making huge salaries are in atrocious personal financial shape.
Another way you can boost savings is to do so when you pay off a monthly bill. So when I paid off my car loan I just kept saving the old payment. Then I was able to buy my new car with the cash I saved in advance when I was ready for a new car.
The Curious Cat Investing, Economics and Personal Finance Carnival is published monthly with links to new, related, interesting content online. Also see related books and articles.
- QE3 is Ben Bernanke’s masterstroke of market manipulation by Matt Phillips – “it’s way more profitable to make mortgages now than it was during the peak of the housing frenzy. This is because at that time banks were competing like crazy to make new mortgages, driving profit margins way down.”
- Long Term View of Manufacturing Employment in the USA by John Hunter – “In 1980 manufacturing jobs accounted for over 22% of USA jobs; by 1990 that fell to 17%, by 2000 to 14% and by 2010 to 10%.” During this period jobs fell from 18 million to 12 million while manufacturing output increased.
- Let’s Increase America’s Savings Rate in November! by Jim Blankenship – “Recent figures have shown that we Americans are doing a little bit better of late, at a 5% savings rate versus around 1% back in 2005 – but this is a dismal figure when you consider how most folks are coming up short when they want to retire.”
- The Importance Of Elizabeth Warren by Simon Johnson – “We should confront excessive market power, irrespective of the form that it takes. We need a new trust-busting moment. And this requires elected officials willing and able to stand up to concentrated and powerful corporate interests. Empower the consumer – and figure out how this can get you elected.”
Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 171,000 in October, and the unemployment rate increased at 7.9%, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Employment rose in professional and business services, health care, and retail trade. The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for August was revised from +142,000 to +192,000, and the change for September was revised from +114,000 to +148,000.
So with this report another 255,000 (171 + 50 + 34) were added, quite a good number. If we could see 250,000 jobs added for 12 more months that would be quite nice – though still will not have recovered all the jobs cost by the too-big-too-fail credit crisis.
Employment growth has averaged 157,000 per month thus far in 2012, about the same as the average monthly gain of 153,000 in 2011.
Hurricane Sandy had no discernable effect on the employment and unemployment data for October. Household survey data collection was completed before the storm, and establishment survey data collection rates were within normal ranges nationally and for the affected areas.
Long-term unemployment remains a problem, in October, the number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was little changed at 5.0 million. These individuals accounted for 40.6% of the unemployed (a higher percentage than normal – as it has been for the duration of the too-big-too-fail job recession.
The civilian labor force rose by 578,000 to 155.6 million in October, and the labor force participation rate edged up to 63.8%. Total employment rose by 410,000 over the month (I am guessing this is not seasonally adjusted – the highlighted figures normally quotes are seasonally adjusted figures). The employment-population ratio was essentially unchanged at 58.8%, following an increase of 40 basis points in September.
Related: Unemployment Rate Reached 10.2% (Oct 2009) – USA Economy Adds 151,000 Jobs in October and Revisions Add 110,000 More (Oct 2010, unemployment rate at 9.6%) – USA Unemployment Rate Drops to 8.6% (Nov 2011) – USA Lost Over 500,000 Jobs in November, 2008