How Does This Help?

I realize that many states have budget woes. Mine is no exception. Fortunately my state isn't yet putting employees on furlough. What I don't quite understand is how cutting the pay of employees is supposed to help the current economic situation. Given the fairly tight budgets most Americans are on, many of whom live paycheck-to-paycheck, I don't see how this solves anything. It merely shifts the burden of the budget crisis to the employee. Now the employee can't pay their bills or their mortgage, not the employer (who is likely to be much more able to do deficit spending). So cars get repossessed, utilities get cut off, homes get foreclosed. The employer doesn't care. They saved their money. Not enough to solve the budget problems, but apparently enough that it makes it ok to shift the budget crisis to someone else. Hardly seems fair to penalize employees for bad decisions of the employer, does it? I am very curious if the unpaid furloughs and pay cuts also apply to the legislative branches and elected officials of these states. It better.

In the meantime, more problems develop for regular folk. More folks are forced to tap into savings or to assume more debt and hope that no emergencies arise. Personally, I don't live paycheck-to-paycheck, but there are millions who do. There are folks who don't have an emergency fund or savings. Folks for whom an unexpected car repair bill would be devastating. Or a house repair. Or a medical bill. Doesn't seem quite fair to punish folks struggling to make ends meet by sending them home unpaid for 2-4 days just so the employer can balance things. Then again, I overhear people complain about not having enough money to pay bills while they take grade school children to get manicures and pedicures or while they shop for a new purse. That really puts a dent in my degree of sympathy. What kind of priority system is that? If you haven't money to make ends meet, wouldn't you consider cutting out all non-critical spending? I guess "critical" means manis and pedis to some folks. It sure doesn't to me.

Critical to me is utility bills, mortgage, car insurance and food. Everything else is optional. Even the food is seriously negotiable. I have lived on <$50/month for food by eating nothing but frozen vegetables, pasta, marinara sauce and Cheerios or oatmeal. And coffee brewed at home. No eating out (unless someone else was picking up the check). No junk food. No "treats". Thankfully I don't have to eat like that any more. I'm am, however, glad to know that I can do that if I need to. At the moment what I need to focus on is diligently sticking to my grocery shopping list and weekly menu plan instead of picking up extra stuff as I think of something else I'd like to eat. The food doesn't go to waste, but it's silly to buy things for meals I don't eat that next week. On the other hand, I am getting to the point where I only go to the grocery store twice a month--once for a big shopping trip (~$75-80) and once for more perishable stuff or things that run out that can't wait for the big trip (~$30-40). In July, I'm going to give Dave Ramsey's envelope budgeting method a shot with my food/household shopping. I'll put a specified amount of cash into an envelope for the month and then pay for all food/household goods out of that envelope for the month. When the money is gone, there will be no more buying. It'll be interesting to see how that works and what I learn from it about my spending habits.

Long Weekend Plans

My holiday weekend project was going to be cleaning and staining my deck. I'm a bit worried about the timing of that project though. If I get it washed on Thursday night or Friday, I can stain it 24-36 hours later if there is no rain. Of course, that means I have to pick a stain color this week. And figure out what supplies I will need to get the whole job done in 2-3 days. (Thank goodness for the internet.) Given how badly discolored some of the boards are (the previous owners seem to have spilled melted citronella candle wax and/or tiki torch fuel on parts of it), I don't know how long it will take to get the deck clean enough to stain. I will have to stain it on a weekend morning since stain isn't supposed to be applied in direct sunlight. If I can't get it stained on Saturday or Sunday morning, I'll have to wait until the end of July to get it done, which may necessitate cleaning it again before staining. Depending upon how tricky it is to get the supplies pulled together this week, I may decide to move the whole project to late July. Of course, given the recommended temperatures for staining are between 50 and 90 degrees F, it may be wisest to move the whole project to later this fall anyway.

Alternate projects
Relocate/divide irises and perennials. Relocate volunteer tree seedlings (three or four of them). Weed the veggie garden. Dig up/establish the deckside flowerbed. Buy/install mulch. Plan and lay out the shady bed at the north end of the yard (where the violets are doing so well). And those are just the outside projects!!! Somehow I don't think I'll be at a loss for things to do.


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