Friday, June 03, 2005

People who have money (enough to pay average living expenses, maybe take a real vacation now and then) have no concept what it is like to have none. Unemployment and a lack of financial saavy can wreck havoc and take a lifetime to recover from - no cash, no credit, no assets, no real possibility of ever reaching even, much less get ahead. We have no luxuries - no boats, motorcylces, new cars, or designer clothes. I shop second-hand stores and garage sales for as much as possible. Medical and dental care? Get real - all we can hope for is no major injury or illness. That's about all the insurance will cover.

Those people take for granted the ability to buy a new car ("But the interest rates are so low!") or a house ("You don't even need a down payment!"). Ever try buying a car with a lousy credit rating? Our last used car (1997) purchase in 2000 came with a usurious 23.95% interest rate. We have three $300 payments left (after five years), the car has over 200,000 miles, needs major repairs, with no hope of fixing or replacing it in the forseeable future.

We've reduced the rent (buy a house? yeah, right!) from $850 to $675 by downsizing (sold nearly all the second-hand furniture we owned) and moving to a two bedroom tri-plex in a small town. And try renting anything when you have pets - that's another whole rant!

So work hard, play by the rules, report all your income as you struggle to start a small business that barely makes a buck, and the IRS will come knocking for their (huge!) cut. And now I have to give up my dream that is just beginning to show a profit and return to the rat race world of corporate America, where 90% of my paycheck will go straight to the IRS.

My husband's pay will cover those little things like rent, food, utilities, insurance, and trying to help two good kids finish college so they don't end up financially hopeless like their parents. And we'll spend the next seven years of our lives working to pay Uncle Sam for the privilege of being Americans, where the only ones who get ahead are the ones who are born with money or who don't play by the rules.

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