I like real stuff.
I've started to grow tired of fluff and nonsense.
I like real stuff.
So I thought it necessary to throw REAL all up on the blog and, from the get go, be as transparent as one can possibly be.
I voted Republican at one time.
I was working my tail off as the sole owner/operator of my business....we were hustlin' that hustle like all the people told us we should.
Someone once said to my husband and I that we would stop voting Democrat when we "made some money"....and I'm ashamed to admit that they were right. I was making money and dammit I wanted to keep it. I was paying at least 40% of my income out in taxes and I was blaming the wrong group of people for that grand injustice. Instead of looking at myself and saying "My God, I'm self-employed, I get to stay home with my kids, make my own hours, and make a pretty damn good living wage".....I started to get greedy....and it made me someone I nearly didn't recognize.
So, what changed everything?
Trump. Trump did.
When he came along, the lines of communication burst open like never before. Friends I held dear were posting things online that I could have easily dismissed. I could have held firm to my "belief" that socialism is for suckers, that no one should have to pay their hard-earned wages to help anyone else, and that "bootstrap" mentality is all anyone needs to get by. I worked hard and, dammit, everyone else can too and expect the exact same results.
I could have dug in my heels.
And at times I did.
But then I started reading. A friend would post some statistics....and I would follow the link. I would consider it's source (because Lord knows some sources are cray....on BOTH sides) and then I would take in the information.
I'm a Sociology major. Always will be....and I LOVE stats. I love hard numbers and proof. Hell, it's the only math class I ever did well in. Stats make SENSE. You cannot argue with statistics (if sourced correctly and honestly).
So I listened. And I read. And it started to make sense.
It made sense that I had an easier time succeeding than some of my counterparts. I had privilege that they did not.
I grew up in a working class home in the 1980s.....when "working class" meant you could afford a decent, modest house, healthcare, and the occasional vacation.
Working class doesn't mean that anymore.
I grew up with two parents who remained married and both worked.
I grew up with a grandmother who instilled in me the idea that I could do and be anything.
I grew up with books, access to additional education, healthcare at my fingertips, regular dentist visits, the ability to play sports and participate in plays.
I grew up white. Blonde haired. Blue eyed. European last name.
All of this seems rather pointless to mention until you sit back and realize that regular dentist visits could be a major luxury for some.....and it's not because their parents don't "work hard enough" to afford them. It's because the COST of said visits keeps rising while incomes are remaining stagnant or falling at an alarming rate.
And all the while, conservative voters like me were sitting back and thinking those damn kids and their need for fillings.....why don't they eat less sugary snacks? I mean, I'm paying for those too!
When I started this blog, it was because I truly have a strong passion for helping people sort through their finances. (Can I just say I hate the word passion......how about affinity?...that's better). I love showing people how to arrange a zero-based budget, how to kick the addiction to credit cards, or how to be frugal. But, I'm realizing that this affinity for personal finance also has to come along with a view on social and economic issues that I can live with, that I can be comfortable with.
When Trump hit the ground running with his campaign and I began to hear the stories about costs of college sky-rocketing, people who were in danger of losing their healthcare, and folks who were unable to make ends meet even working multiple jobs.....I started to pay attention. Not to say that Trump CAUSED all of these things, but he definitely made it more acceptable to come out as a staunch conservative with certain "feelings" on those subjects....which led to stories.....
With all of the NOISE out there....the name-calling, the talk of emails, the talk of grabbing lady parts with Billy Bush and the screaming back and forth with no end or agreement in sight.....I found a SIGNAL. A signal through the noise.
What side of history did I want to stand on? What, at the end of the day, did I want to tell my CHILDREN....who whether we believe it or not, are listening....I believed?
I believe STRONGLY in a frugal lifestyle, in minimizing or eliminating debt, in saving not spending, in investing and personal responsibility. All of that would point to a fiscally conservative mindset, right? Well....not quite.
I also believe in fellow human beings, in doing what's right, in helping those who need help and in teaching those who, with knowledge, could foster a better life for themselves.
There are ALWAYS going to be people who feel ENTITLED to things. People who feel that regardless of MATH, they can spend themselves into oblivion and whine that they can't make ends meet. The issue here, and what spoke to me, is that this is not a liberal or conservative issue. It's a character issue. There are folks on BOTH sides of the aisle that have this entitlement issue. Big, huge companies that can't balance their budget down to the lazy dude who doesn't want to work 40 hours a week but still wants brand name shoes.
These folks are held aloft as the MAJORITY, by conservatives and liberals. SEEEEE, the big companies are the bad guy! SEEEEE, liberals are lazy jackasses who don't want to work.
This broad-brush painting helps NO ONE and only leads to such division that absolutely nothing gets accomplished to benefit anyone.
The only ones "winning" are those who surround themselves with "yes men" who will tell them they are amazing regardless of what the statistics show otherwise. And even then....it's not a real win. It's in their heads. A false sense of accomplishment.
You are not winning anything by supporting the end of social programs, by insisting that people keep coughing up the ridiculous rising prices of college, by saying "well, I have healthcare so I really don't care if my neighbor does".
Know what that leads to?
A country full of dumb, sick dullards with no skills and no hope.
Good GOD, that's not what I want out of my country. We are already lagging behind European countries, behind our neighbor Canada and WHY? Because we are so damn stubborn and refuse to admit that we, as a country, REALLY don't have it all figured out. We are so busy fighting among one another about TOPICS while the big issues go years unsolved, and we begin to reap what we have sown.
People say that "arguing on the internet" does absolutely nothing....that is doesn't change minds. And, that's probably.....statistically (YAY!).....true.
But, if people would commit to just seeing what the other side has to say. Of not taking one story and making it the case for an entire group of people. Of having FAITH in their neighbors....things could change.
Do I believe in some conservatives when they say we have to SPEND LESS? Good God yes. But the fiscally responsible conservative has been skewed....and replaced with someone who wants to cut needed programs under the guise of "spending less" when, in reality, it furthers another agenda: religious, racist, or otherwise.
Do I believe in liberal leaders who say we need to support affordable college and free healthcare accessible to all? A living wage and family leave for new parents? Good God yes. But a lot of this has been skewed by folks who believe this is all just "handouts" and if you cannot provide these items for yourself, you've lost at the game of life, somehow.
It's all a mess.
A big, fat, ugly mess and it gets more ridiculous every day and, honestly, I don't even know what the point of getting this all down was.
Maybe, just maybe, it's to prove to one person telling their story that someone IS listening. I swear. That minds can be changed. That perspectives can move with knowledge.
Maybe it's to apologize for being that idiot on the internet who said things like "pull themselves up by their bootstraps" and "work three jobs to put themselves through college like I did". (Though I still believe everyone needs to stay away from lottery tickets!)
Maybe it's just to ease my own troubled mind, I don't know.
It's all a mess, but it's been a mess before and we've come through okay.
So hang in there. Love your neighbor. Help where you can. Be frugal. Save.
And have hope.