American Economy on the Brink of Collapse?

I think it’s normal, during hard times, to consider what might happen should the worst happen.  A recent post by Crystal, asking “Will You See the Collapse of America“, brought the question to the forefront for me.  Is the American Economy on the Brink of Collapse?  Will we see the collapse of America?

First, the optimist in me immediately says no.  There are too many good things going on in our country for it to collapse completely.  The stock market just came off of a really good year.  The job market is, if not rising, holding somewhat steady and certainly isn’t gushing jobs like it was in 2008-2009.  And, up here in North Dakota, we’re working on providing lots and lots of oil.  We just need a little bit more refining capacity to do even better.

But, those aren’t the only indicators.  Crystal points to the slow degradation of our rights, and our ever increasing consumerism as reasons that America might collapse in 100-200 years.  While the loss of rights is something that we have to do something about, our consumerism had shown signs of slowing down.  With the crash of the housing market, the average saving rate had been rising.  From a low in 2005 of 1.5%, to a rate of 5.4% in 2008.  Since then, it’s begun to slowly work it’s way lower, but is still close to 4%.  At the same time, the average consumer debt held has continued to decline.  Maybe, just maybe, we’re making a difference and a better educated population is starting to make the changes that are necessary to be more financially stable.  Now, if only we could convince the government to do the same.

An Economy, Broken.

And, really, when we start talking about the American economy, it’s going to be the government that makes it or breaks it.  After all, you and I can save 100% of our income, but it won’t do a bit of good against a $17 Trillion dollar (and growing) debt.  The truth is, with debt that increases by several Billion each day, the rate of personal savings won’t do a bit of good.  At some point, the countries of the world that use the Dollar as a basis for trade will cease to do so.  The continual weakening of the dollar against the other world currencies (even BitCoin), makes for a potentially disastrous recipe.  It’s very possible that, if spending (and that debt) don’t come down, that the American economy could find itself between a rock and a hard place very soon.  And that could spell a major recession or depression.  How the government reacts to such a thing could be the only indicator of whether the economy ever comes back out of it, and, ultimately, whether the America we know and love continues to exist.

Like Crystal, I think the eventual collapse of the economy is unavoidable.  The government hasn’t made any meaningful steps to reduce debt or spending.  And the majority of the population either don’t see it, or believe that the people that we are electing are going to save us.  Frankly, without a major overhaul of the government, and some changes to who we elect, it may be too late.  Really, it just comes down to how quickly the collapse will come.

Crystal thinks it’s 100-200 years from now.  She may be right as far as the collapse of America.  The country itself might last that long.  The Roman empire lasted for many years before finally collapsing completely, but the signs were there for a very long time.  If I’m being optimistic, I think we might have 4 or 5 years before we see any major collapse of the economy.  But, we’ll start seeing signs even sooner than that.

American Economy on the Brink of Collapse

Signs of the Collapse

What signs, you ask?  There are some broad indicators, like the overall housing market and the stock market.  The rate of inflation as well.  But, unless you’re heavily invested in the stock market, that indicator might not make much difference to you.  Watch for more simple indicators.  The price of gas.  The cost of a gallon of milk.  The cost of produce.  When you combine all the simple indicators that you notice every day with the overall indicators, you should be able to make a pretty good guess which direction the economy is heading.

What next?

Let’s say that I’m right.  In 4-5 years, the American economy collapses.  Maybe it’ll be gradual, or maybe it’ll be a crash for the ages.  Either way, what can you and I do about it?  On the grander scale, not much.  We’re not going to stop the collapse by ourselves.  But, we can push it further off, and we can prepare.

Delaying the Collapse

I’m already taking some steps to delay the collapse of the economy.  How?  By talking about it.  By making people aware of how to best handle their money.  You are too!  By being a good steward of your money, and telling your money how to work for you instead of your money telling you what to do, you’re making your own contribution to the betterment of the overall economy.  We can get involved in politics (I know that sounds like a lot of fun… or not.)  and push our representatives to work harder to reduce debt, reduce deficit spending, and to get it done without any partisan politics.  Just don’t hold your breath that it will happen.  We can also help by not only helping our own finances out, but by also helping our friends and family get their financial houses in order.  It’s a touchy subject, but, ask yourself this; how many of your friends and family do you want knocking on your door when the economy collapses?

Preparing for the Collapse

Even with all that work, the collapse might (probably will) still come. Surviving it will depend wholly on your preparation for it.  I’m not saying you have to go out today and become a prepper.  What I am saying, though, is that you need to start taking steps to be ready.  Start learning how to be more self-reliant.  Learn how to grow some of your own food.  Then learn how to can it and preserve it.  Yes, that might mean creating a little bit of a stockpile like a prepper, but I happen to think we could all do with a bit more sustainability in our lives.

Most of all, have a plan.  What happens in an emergency?  Even if it isn’t caused by the economic collapse of America?  If you were without power for days, how would you keep warm?  How would you eat?  What would you do for a bathroom?  These questions don’t require anything more than a little thought, and maybe some research on solutions!  Have a plan.

What do you think?  Is the American economy on the brink of collapse?

Fincon Expo Tickets on Sale Now

This post will have very little to do (directly anyways) with personal finance.  It’s aimed more at those folks who, like me, write about personal finance, or are members of the personal finance media.  You’re welcome to continue to read on if that isn’t you, but it might be a bit boring.  :)

So, just a quick note to let you all know that Fincon tickets went on sale about 30 seconds ago.  Yes, seriously.  Go get your ticket now before they sell out, or the price goes up.

Fincon ExpoDon’t know what Fincon is? You’ve been missing out! It’s the major personal finance and money conference. I’ve been every year so far, and am hoping to be able to make it this year as well. If you’re in the money media, it’s the place to be for meeting others like you, meeting vendors like Ally, Lending Club, Chase, and others, and meeting some of the biggest names in the media/money arena. Last year, we got keynote speeches from Jean Chatzky, Pat Flynn, and Derek Halpern. This year, Farnoosh Torabi will be giving a keynote as will Chris Ducker.

There will be an abundance of information to take in, and I guarantee you’ll come away with at least a handful of ideas on ways to improve what you’re doing.

Are you still reading this?  Stop.  Go get your tickets first! Then, come back and let me know if you’ll be attending, how many you’ve been to (or if you’ll be a first timer), and what you look forward to the most.

5 Tips to Do More With Your Time

Today, we have a post from personal finance blogger Harry Campbell.  Harry started blogging about personal finance on his main site Your PF Pro a few years ago and enjoyed it so much that he started a second site dedicated to finding the perfect work-life balance at The Four Hour Work Day.  When Harry is not blogging, he works full time as an aerospace engineer and enjoys surfing and playing beach volleyball.
Many of us have big financial goals we’re striving for, like re-paying thousands of dollars worth of debt or gaining financial independence. But there are only so many ways to cut expenses and trim the fat from your budget.  In order to come up with a little extra cash to put toward these kinds of goals there are a lot of people pursuing ways to earn more.

Creating multiple income streams is the way to go if you want to fast-track your way to financial success. Theoretically, your earning potential is unlimited – there’s no limit to how much you can earn if you’re capable of leveraging your skills and abilities to generate higher and higher incomes. Another important factor to consider is how you leverage your time.

We all have 24 hours in a day, and yet some of us seem to have an easier time of doing more with those hours than others. Learning how to manage your time effectively in order to stay productive is a huge consideration when it comes to determining how successful your side businesses, hustles, or gigs will be.

With that in mind, here are 5 ways to do more with your day so you can manage your time wisely and stay on top of all the ways you earn a little extra money to fund your financial dreams:

  • 1. Step Back. Do More With Your TimeIt sounds a little counter-intuitive, but to learn good time management you need to first put on the brakes and look at the big picture. Evaluate how you’re currently spending your time. Does a 30 minute lunch break turn into 2 hours of TV-watching or Internet surfing? Are you losing time because you actually have no clue how long certain things take or how many minutes and hours you spend on everything you’re doing?Treat your time like you would your money. Start tracking it and examine where it goes each and every day. Then, work to eliminate the waste and refocus on what’s actually important and what will get your closer to your goals.
  • 2. Schedule Your Days. If you have a hard time keeping track of all that you need to do, or find that you can’t stay focused throughout the day, make a schedule. Use a tool like Google Calendar, viewing your days in the “week” or “4 days” mode. Then, break down tasks by the hour or half-hour and assign yourself something to do in each time slot. For example, if you have a blog post that needs to be written, maybe you’ll add an event to the calendar that says “write blog post” and schedule it for 8am to 9am. That way you know what you need to do and you can stay on track to get it done when you told yourself you would.
  • 3. Take Care of the “Non-Negotiables.” If having a detailed schedule is too confining, consider establishing three non-negotiable tasks every day. These tasks have to be completed by the end of the day, no exceptions. This will force you to prioritize what’s important, and will get you motivated to make sure you can cross them off each day’s to-do list.
  • 4. Eliminate Distractions. Stop trying to work in front of the TV. Accept that you can’t get serious work done if your spouse is chatting on the phone in the next room and you can’t tune them out. Create a quiet, effective workspace – preferably one that has a door you can shut when you need to seriously focus and concentrate. You’re wasting time by allowing distractions to keep you from being as productive as you need to be. If you feel bad about shutting yourself up away from your family in order to work, consider this: if you’re in a space where you can just work, no distractions, you’re likely to complete necessary tasks much faster, which means you can finish up and then give your family your undivided attention. It’s a win-win for everyone.
  • 5. Be Okay with Saying “No.” If there’s a client you hate, a project that is taking up a ton of time and will offer a tiny payout, or a task you can’t stand to do – just say no. Drop these negative, energy-draining commitments as soon as possible (and in a professional manner). Your time is valuable and you’ll regain so much of it if you cut off toxic projects or clients. You’ll also feel happier, more energized, and capable of tackling the stuff you actually enjoy.