My Financial Epiphany: Change to Survive

For many in the Christian church, today – January 6 – is celebrated as the Feast of the Epiphany, commemorating the arrival of the Magi who traveled a great distance to visit and offer gifts to the baby Jesus in Bethlehem.

In secular terms, an “epiphany” is a sudden perception or insight into reality or essential meaning of something.   Usually, an epiphany is prompted by some simple thought, experience, or event in your life.

Mr. ToughMoneyLove experienced an epiphany of sorts this weekend about the future of our individual and collective financial affairs.  It was actually triggered by something that Scott Burns wrote in a recent column titled “Home Preparedness and the $50 Billion Straw.”    This is what Scott said that really affected me:

What can we do to feel safe again?

Should we push the politicians for fundamental reform?

No way. They simply aren’t qualified to provide it. Neither party has shown any willingness to stop promising benefits that have to be paid for by our children and grandchildren. Their Ponzi scheme, more politely known as Social Security and Medicare, is far larger than the alleged fraud of Bernard Madoff.

The tough answer is that we have to change. The moment we ask the politicians, regardless of party, we’re disempowering ourselves and empowering them.

That is the opposite of what we need to do.

The key phrase is we have to change.  Many of us have long distrusted politicians and resigned ourselves to their propensity to spend our money on pork, entitlements,  and on other things that get them re-elected.  But we continue to vote with hope for yet another candidate who offers “change we can believe in.”   But, as Scott Burns says, the politicians are simply not going to change.  Instead of principled leadership being provided by men and women with knowledge, wisdom, and common sense in matters of money and finance, we get goofballs like Arnold Schwarzenegger, George Bush, Barney Frank, Charley Rangel, and now Al Franken.   Can you believe it – “Senator” Al Franken spending our money?  

It seems that there is an endless supply of people who can get themselves elected into positions where they have power over our financial lives but are completely incompetent to exercise that power.  Unfortunately, there are also millions of voters willing to put and keep those people in power.  As just one example, Franken is being foisted upon us by the same voters who turned a professional wrestler (Jesse Ventura) into a governor.  Thanks Minnesota!  And you voters in Illinois- aren’t you totally embarrassed?  You’re going to need to build a new prison just to house all of your corrupt politicians.

So my epiphany is that not only should I resist any hope that our government will do the right things with my money and our financial institutions, I must acknowledge that it never will.  But I should not simply despair.  Instead, to survive economically I will have to be the one making the changes.

Last November I wrote about adopting a survivalist approach to our economic crisis.  In his recent column, Scott Burns is thinking the same way and offers some tips for becoming an economic survivalist on a more or less permanent basis.  (Check out the books he recommends.)  There are lots of other like-minded folks out there, including the conspiracy theorists and armageddon predictors who say buy gold and guns then hunker down. 

I’m not interested in gold and guns as a survivalist strategy.  But I am going to try even harder to build up a variety of assets – including some very hard, paid-for assets – that will allow my family to survive economically without depending on a traditional income. That is a change that I can make to keep as much economic power with Mr. ToughMoneyLove and away from those in our government who just want to abuse their power over my money as well as the money of my children and grandchildren. 

I have a lot of thinking to do about what being an economic survivalist really means.  Having an epiphany provides realization but not necessarily solutions.   Who knows, I may become an evangelist for an “economic survivalist” movement.  (I even registered the domain name just in case!) 

So now I am wondering if any of you have ever had a financial epiphany.  If so, what was it?  Maybe I am late to the party with mine.  If so, tell me about it.

Image credit:  Daniel Wildman

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8 Responses to “My Financial Epiphany: Change to Survive”
  1. TMN says:

    I think it’s extremely unfair to single out Al Franken as someone who is “obviously incompetent” to act as a representative in our government. Sure, he’s no great legal mind, but he’s been moving toward politics for at least a decade. It’s been heavily guarded in satire most of the time, but that satire has been supported by a lot of research and thought as well.

    Personally I find it more damaging to assume that only economists or lawyers have a place in government. The “trained experts” can mess things up just as much as someone without a legal background, and a writer can do just as many good things as a lawyer if they’re intelligent and observant.

  2. TMN: Franken and many others scare me because he is moving from entertainment to politics with nothing in between. What experience will he call upon to act responsibly with our money.

    I agree with you about lawyers in government. They are good at writing and understanding the laws but not so good at deciding what should be in those laws. Economists – it’s a dismal science but it is worth understanding. Most politicians do not.

  3. TMN says:

    That’s what I’m saying, though. He’s not moving directly from SNL to politics. He’s spent over a decade as a political satirist, with quite a bit of research going into each of his books. There’s a documentary called “God Spoke” that follows some of his writing career as well as his time as a commentator on Air America… gives a pretty good perspective on where he’s coming from and why he wanted to get into politics. I found it pretty impressive, and I’m no fan of Schwarzenager or Ventura.

  4. MasterPo says:

    Regarding Franken he worries me greatly!! His ideas on seizing 401k’s and IRAs for a “government guaranteed” account should be ample cause for alarm to any sane person!

    Regading change, while I personally agree I don’t think many people want to change. I have come to the sad and disturbing conclusion that more and more Americans *WANT* government to look out for them and take care of them as mommy&daddy. They’d rather play xbox then help themselves. I see it every day and it hurts to no end. :-(

  5. TStrump says:

    It seems people get elected because of their image or how good they are on TV.
    It’s too bad because I’m sure there are some really smart people out there who could do some good – unfortunately, they don’t have the bucks or the Nielson ratings.
    Why can’t people see past this?

  6. MasterPo says:

    We live ina sound-bite, photo-op world. People aren’t challenged to think for themselves. They have more important things to be concerned with like xbox and itunes and the latest iphone download apps.

  7. MasterPo says:

    ps- Bread and Circuses.

    That brought down Rome.
    History repeats itself.

  8. Red says:

    I once read a book by Jesse Ventura (“Do I Stand Alone” I think)where he came across as a pretty levelheaded guy who was fed up with many of the excesses of politics.
    Read the book, it might change your mind.
    Your blog is great by the way!

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