Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Financial Pressure

It appears to me that our country has evolved into one of have's and have-not's. Don't get me wrong - it has always been this way to a certain extent. However, in recent years, the line that divides the two has widened greatly. The middle ground is in danger of becoming extinct.

I used to consider myself to one of those on that middle ground. I was not well-off, but I had what I needed to provide nessecities for my family and sometimes a few "luxuries", too. My luxuries are not the same as most - I do not mean a cruise or trip to Disney World. My luxuries are an extra swimsuit for the summer or dinner out at a nice restaurant. We have been happy on our finances and we have even enjoyed life on our finances.

Recently, I actually feel financial stress. With gas prices continously rising, I am considering forming a carpool from the subdivisions in my area into town. As I was mulling this over on my way to work, I was also marveling at the number of cars on the road. It has not changed, despite the ridiculously rising prices. Either people really are not hurting from what they must pay at the pump or they have decided not to give up their cars regardless the cost. It makes me wonder where they are cutting their budgets in order to pay for those near $4 gallons of gasoline. Not that it is any of my business...

This has been a rough year for me in terms of cutting back on my budget. My youngest daughter is graduating and while many of the expenses are not necessities, a mother certainly desires certain momentos to mark the occassion. It has pained me that I had to forego senior photos, a yearbook, etc. Nonetheless, she will be beautiful as she walks across that stage in her cap and gown to receive her diploma and my pride will be no less at her accomplishments.

What I really worry about are the families that are cutting their budgets in ways that none of should have to do: medical care, food, clothing, perhaps even basic utilities. Our government argues as to whether or not our economy is in recession; however, these families can tell you without a doubt that we are. The cost of fuel has hit us in places other than the pumps, as producers, shippers and retailers must pay increased prices for the process by which the product is supplied to the consumer. It appears to be a never-ending cycle and those $600-$1200 economic stimulus checks are not going to solve the problem. People are too afraid of what lies ahead to let that money flow easily through their fingers. And I don't blame them!

What is the solution? I certainly do not have a clue. But I hope that someone has a bright idea soon...

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