Death To The Dollar


         The news is buzzing right now with an idea that’s been thrown around: getting rid of the U.S. Dollar. The paper dollar has long been a staple of our economy. Backed by gold and trusted virtually everywhere in the world, the U.S. Dollar has proven to be a fundamental importance to the American way of life. Sadly, there are those within Congress and the Federal Reserve who feel that paper money is becoming a burden and have begun circulating the rumor that perhaps we’d be better off without it.
         As a way to reduce the deficit, the Federal Reserve has made claims that making paper money is expensive and a waste of tax money. (Disclaimer: The U.S. Dollar is not actually made from paper, but for the purpose of my post I am calling it paper.) The Federal Reserve minted billions of gold dollar coins. Most of those coins rarely see the light of day, being kept locked away in the Federal Reserve. The prospect of doing a little house cleaning has got the Reserve jumping on the bandwagon of trading in the paper dollar for the coin dollar. But is this really the best of ideas?
         We have all felt the annoyance of having a pocket full of coins and sitting down in our car and having that change fall out and get lost, never to be seen again. Change is hard to hold on to. It can slip out of your pocket and be lost forever on the floor of a movie theater or the cushions of a restaurant booth. Most vending machines are not designed to take the large, thick dollar coins, but most all of them have paper money slots. Wallets, purses, and envelopes are all designed to functionally hold, protect, carry, and utilize the dollar bill. Just the sheer weight of a coin versus paper money and the thought of carrying clanking metal in your pocket is enough to deter anyone from being interested in this.
         Bills are convenient. They can be easily transported or mailed. They make any transaction a breeze. And there is nothing better than cold, hard cash when making purchases or trying to haggle a deal. Just ask anyone at a garage sale, flea market, or pawn shop. Bills come in the most popular forms of a one, five, ten, twenty, fifty, and a hundred. So this begs the question, if coins replace the paper, will a separate coin be made for each bill? If not, imagine converting fifty one dollar bills into fifty one dollar coins. Doesn’t sound very pleasant does it? If they do make a separate coin for each bill, how would we differentiate them from each other and from the other coins already in existence? What materials would be used and what president’s image would be utilized? Another thing that will have to be considered is the dozens of other coins we have already. Pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters, half dollars, golden dollars, all of these will still, presumably, be in circulation. Anytime we make a purchase, we will get a mountain of coins back as our -quite literal- change.
         If you stop and think about it, it would seem that all the time, effort, and money spent on this project wouldn’t be worth the miniscule amount of savings that are being claimed by the committee. First off, you would have to initiate some sort of recall for paper money. The sheer massiveness of trying to round up and trade in every paper bill in the world can’t even be fathomed. It’s an impossible task. Secondly, assuming coins would be made for each bill, then entire committees would have to be assembled to design each coin. Then materials would have to be gathered and actual coins would have to be produced. Another lengthy assignment. Lastly, after the coins are made, you’d have to get them into circulation. Banks would have to be converted. Every single store in the country would need to have their bills swapped out for coins. Considering the lack of appeal and interest in the already minted dollar coins, this all appears to be an idea that most businesses and consumers would not be behind.
         Another problem with coins is that they can’t be verified or traced. Bills have serial numbers and authentication strips that show up under black lights. A consumer can go online and trace the origin and recent purchases used with a bill in their possession. Coins have no verifiable imprints and include no serial numbers. One would assume that counterfeiting a coin would be much easier than a dollar bill. How does the committee plan to accommodate this huge oversight?
         The smart idea would be to do away with coins altogether. Make every sale an even dollar and then we can all stick to paper. The coins can be kept for collectors and personal minters. Whatever isn’t preserved can be melted down and used for other purposes. With the rising cost of food prices a pocket full of quarters hardly gets you anything in a vending machine anymore. Most individuals use bills for vending machines. A lot of machines have now been retrofitted with credit card readers making physical money a thing of the past.
         Coins are the most primitive form of money. Ancient civilizations used crudely stamped coins, misshapen and no two alike. A stack of coins will take up more space, with less worth, then a stack of bills. The Federal Reserve will be hard pressed to find any citizen who is happy to go along trading a hundred dollar bill in their wallet for a hundred bronze coins in their pocket. It’s impractical and burdensome. The committee tossing this idea around has cited various numbers about how much money it would save the government in the long run. Meanwhile the government continues wasting billions on Homeland Security initiatives in order to control and document every citizen. Billions more are wasted on foreign aide and unsubstantiated wars. Trillions are wasted on failing businesses who wouldn’t know an accountant if one applied for a job as CEO. Looking to the fringes of unimportant issues to save money is not the way to fix the ever increasing debt of this country.
         Nothing vital will be earned by trading in paper bills for metallic coins. In the long run, it will prove to be a horrible initiative and a taxing change. The U.S. Dollar may be declining, but there’s little evidence that China will be more accepting of a physical coin over a dollar bill. It seems more like swapping out a flat tire with another flat tire. The real issue is not in the dollar itself, but in the economy it’s trying to fuel. The economy and the politicians with their hands in the piggy banks are the things that need swapped out and replaced. Switching from a paper system to a coin system feels like a cheap ploy to avert everyone’s attention away from the fact that regardless of what the physical currency is, the U.S. Dollar -and the government backing it- aren’t worth a damn these days.

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Financial Discipline


         Times are hard. Wallets are thin. The American family is struggling. Sound familiar? You’re probably one of them. The writer of this blog sure is. The news is filled with reports of families taking drastic steps to just keep their heads above water. A father dumpster dives for food and things he can sell to feed his family. The Occupy Wall Street movement has spread into protestors targeting the homes of rich people. Some of our very own citizens are so stressed by the lack of employment that they are considering moving to the other side of the planet just to find a job. And these are just things happening within our own shores. The once coveted U.S. Dollar is growing less valued which is in turn causing turmoil in the European market. Financial structures within a multitude of countries are all collapsing on themselves. Governments are weakening as the voice of the poor is heard ringing throughout every land. It seems the recession is not limited to just the Red, White, and Blue. We are all feeling the backlash of failing big business, government bailouts, and corrupt politicians.
         Incomes are down and the workforce is dwindling, even though most experts claim the recession is over. For a lot of the average, 40-hr-work-week employees, the prospect of financial security seems like a joke. Most people fortunate enough to have a job are working paycheck to paycheck, bending over backwards to try and make the ends meet. So what should we do? As a typical citizen, unfortunately, there isn’t a whole lot you can do to get the government in functioning order. Things are bad. It feels like no matter who we vote into office, the bottom line isn’t met and we still suffer. It can be overwhelming and daunting to imagine change on a nationwide or global scale. Instead, look within your own self for change. Just because the government is horrible with their money and bad at making financial decisions doesn’t mean you have to be. You can stop, right this moment, and move forward with a new focus on your money. Here is a simple set of guidelines to help add the discipline to your finances.

 

  • Avoid Credit — A lot of financial advisers will hiss and moan at this. However, the economy has not recovered. The dollar is down, and interest rates are on the rise again. Cut up your credit cards, pay off loans, and do not take anymore credit out. Forget about your credit score for awhile. Pay off your debt, starting with the smallest sum and keep going until you don’t owe a thing to anyone. Right now you want to get out of a debt and save up some cash. It might be wise to invest in long-term, high-value items as well. Purchase some pure silver and gold coins. Stock up your pantry with foods and supplies that have long shelf lives. Don’t follow in the government’s footsteps and continue increasing your debt. Stop borrowing, stop owing, and be self-contained. Save up for big purchases. If you can’t afford it, you don’t need it.
  • The Golden Rule — You need to go back to the basics of finances: spend less than you make. It’s that simple. If you over extend yourself, you set your whole financial picture up for failure. Another golden rule to follow is to save 10% of your income. Regardless of how much you make, every time a paycheck comes in, put 10% away and save it for an emergency.
  • Cut Wasteful Spending — There are huge lists of things you can do to save money. Just doing a Google search for “Ways to Save Money” will get you a hitback of 28 million pages. You can save money on your grocery bill, on the utilities, on car maintenance; any and every possible aspect of your life probably has a list to cut back spending. Cook at home and pack your lunch instead of eating out. Maintain your oil and tire pressure to lower the frequency of needing gasoline for your car. Purchase generic products at stores instead of name brands. Look for sales and coupons in weekly advertisements. Keep a budget and stick to it. Make a list of everything you spend for a month and then examine the list for areas you need improvement. Just by making several small changes in your spending, you can save hundreds –if not thousands– of dollars a year.
  • Avoid Life Changing Decisions — If you are in financial hardships, be honest with yourself. The economy isn’t getting better anytime soon. Now is not the time to have a child, adopt a pet, buy a house, or take a lease out on a car. Put those types of plans back on the shelf for a year or two. Give the country time to bounce back and make sure you get your own finances in a stable place. If you are already in debt, big life changing decisions will dig you in even deeper.
  • Make Substitutions — If you are used to constantly going out or spending money on things that would be considered wants and not needs, then it’s time to buckle down and make some tough decisions. There are lots of places out there with cheaper or even free ways to still continue doing the things you love. There are $1 movie theaters out there. Libraries are a great place to borrow movies, cds, and books for free. Museums are constantly doing free admission days. Public parks and hiking trails are generally free. If you are use to paying $100 a month for cable, try switching to a service like Netflix or Hulu. You can save hundreds a year while still getting all your favorite shows. There are substitutions out there for virtually anything. You just have to want to save money and be willing to put in a little time to do a bit of research.

         Financial discipline is your own responsibility. The government and big banks want you to make careless mistakes. They grin from ear to ear when people come in to request a big loan. The government wants you spending what you don’t have so they can take what you don’t own and use it against you. It’s a cat and mouse game and sadly the consumers are the mouse. This isn’t a Tom and Jerry cartoon either. In the current state of economic depression –let’s call it what it is, we’re all depressed– the government is pouncing on people in debt. Free yourself from the cycle. Relieve the stress of high spending expectations. You don’t have to have an 800 credit score in order to be happy. You don’t even need a credit card to be happy. By unlatching yourself from the chains of debt, you relinquish the fear of the unknown. You take away the strength of the fear of losing your livelihood. Empower yourself and your pocketbook by disciplining your finances from this point on. The government doesn’t have any bailouts for ordinary citizens. Don’t count on assistance and don’t follow the example of big corporations. If the government and big business knew what they were doing, the country wouldn’t be in dire straits. Best of luck and remember that anybody can change for the better. You just have to be willing to accept change.

Spend Money To Make Money


       First things first, and this may be the most important thing I tell you ever, so listen closely. Yes, this blog is combining survivalism with financial independence. And yes, having an emergency fund of money stashed away is important. BUT, in the event that the government collapses, what good will that money do you? Absolute Zilch is the correct answer. Money is only as good as the government backing it. Gold and silver will still probably be a commodity, but maybe not. Coins may also still be worth something, but there’s no way to accurately predict that. So before you do anything else, spend your money. Yes, that seems counter intuitive to what I am trying to do with this site. But spend your money. Spend it on supplies, on stockpiling food, on getting training for necessary survival skills. Spend it preparing yourself for a day when money won’t exist and where trading for goods or services will be the new economy. Once you have a stable survival kit and pantry together, then you save your money away. Don’t think just because you have thousands of dollars saved in the bank that you are safe. What happens if the economy collapses and the government folds, you think the FDIC is going to keep your money insured? What happens if they entire power grid goes down and the computer servers that held your account information are wiped cleaned? Always invest your money. First, in yourself: skills, classes, training, supplies, books, etc. Second, in your bank: get a savings account and stick money into it! Third, if you feel brave enough, try your hand at investing in some mutual funds, stocks, CD’s, or an IRA. Money might make the world go around now, but if the world as we know it ceases to exist, cash will no longer be king. So prepare yourself for that scenario as best you can, and then save away for a rainy day. Don’t get caught out in the cold with a fat wallet and a hungry stomach.