Bob Denny: Where’s the hope?


Published: Monday, April 8, 2013 at 5:07 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, April 8, 2013 at 5:07 p.m.

Do you get the feeling that things are getting worse? Do you feel pressure on the job to get more done? Too big of a workload?

Are people around you getting laid off? Or did you get laid off? Did you lose your job? Hard to keep up with your bills?

Having trouble finding a job at all? Or, are you one of the baby boomers, worried about your retirement costs and keeping up with the rising cost of living? Are your medical costs soaring?

Well, you’re not alone. And this isn’t a new problem. In the 1950s, average wages for a full-time job were quite adequate to support a family. I can remember gasoline costing fifteen cents a gallon. You could buy the average home for about $10,000. Today, gasoline is up around $4 a gallon. The average American home sits at around $170,000.

It’s now difficult for a family to make it on the salary of one wage earner. Medical costs and medical insurance are higher than ever. And it’s getting worse. Yes, the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. The cost of living goes up faster than income increases.

What’s the problem? Economists point to a half dozen foreign wars we’ve fought in the last 60 years, dependence on foreign oil and competition with developing nations, and the bursting of economic “bubbles” like the housing market and stock market.

One of the main problems is our basic budgeting planning, or lack of it. Didn’t your parents always tell you to “live within your means?” Fix it, or you’re headed for bankruptcy.

Wouldn’t you expect our government to work the same way? They don’t. We don’t even have a budget plan for the last few years. They just keep “kicking the can down the road.” Each year we spend more than we produce, and run a budget deficit.

To make up for the loss, we print more paper money. Since it’s not backed up with real increase in wealth, all of our paper dollars are worth less. Since we don’t face the real problem, we pass on the loss to future generations to pay for. We elect politicians who promise us benefits we can’t afford, and who say what they need to say to get elected. They offer us false hope.

What can you do? Well, hope is a wonderful positive attitude. ut instead of placing your hope in the government, place your hope in yourself. While you can’t fix it all yourself, or overnight, here are some ideas that may help.

Live within your means! If you can’t afford it, don’t spend it! Learn to live with less, spend more wisely, and don’t borrow. You may need to “hunker down” in these hard times.

Produce more than you spend. Can you find ways to increase your income? Offer a service or produce a product. Grow a garden, work part time, tutor someone, have a garage sale.

Invest, don’t spend. The best investment? Invest in yourself. Take a class. Buy tools that will help you be more productive. Invest in your home or your own small business. Learn skills that can help produce income.

Barter. Do you produce something a neighbor or friend might want? Do they have something they’d like to share? My neighbor brings over fresh veggies from their garden; we share extra eggs our chickens give us.

And yes, keep up hope. Not hope that your country will fix your problems, but in knowing that you can become more self-sufficient and responsible for yourself. Our ancestors managed to get through some terrible times, and survived and eventually thrived. It’s darkest before the dawn.

Bob Denny is a licensed mental health therapist in Florida who teaches psychology and human growth and development at Florida Gateway College.

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