from Pretty Penny Makes Ends Meet
written and illustrated by Devon Kinch
Random House Children’s Books, 2013
My allowance was not pay for completing chores. Chores were what we did because we lived in a family and helped each other get along. Allowance was what my parents gave me because I was part of the family. Some of my friends got paid for doing chores. If you didn’t do the work, you didn’t get the pay. I’m not sure which was more socialist, but I continued getting allowance until I got my first job, babysitting. Even fifty cents per hour was a big improvement over my negotiated allowance. I’m sure I never got more than a couple of dollars per week.
Don’t get me wrong, my parents were generous. If my brother and I wanted to go to the movies, they bought the tickets, we bought the treats. They bought our clothes, we could save up for accessories. But we didn’t have extra money. Mom sometimes played the bill-paying shuffle. One month she put the phone bill in the electric bill envelope. Back in those days, a person would actually call and you could straighten it out over the phone. What Mom really bought was a little time. I don’t know how often she did that. I don’t know how often other people did it. Were the utilities smart enough to know what was happening, or did they play along because the world was nicer then?
Mom taught me how to make a budget. My meager allowance was recorded in one column on a piece of graph paper. I recorded everything I bought and subtracted the amount from a running total. That’s still a useful exercise when I start wondering where my money’s going.
Honesty and a good memory are important.
That’s the way a budget works. You have some money. You spend some. You have some left. But what if I spent more than I had? Well, that was trouble. There was no such thing as credit in my growing-up house. We didn’t get advances, either. So what if I really wanted something? I had to save up my dimes and quarters until I had enough.
My parents taught me the definition of their mortgage. The bank gave them enough money to buy a house. Then, they paid the bank back, little by little, plus some extra because the bank let us borrow the money in the first place. That sounded fair to my ten-year-old brain. But a 30 year mortgage was almost an unbelievably long time.
Cities have budgets. States do, too. Even our country has a budget. And the president made his announcement yesterday. It is controversial. Of course. But the radio station I mostly listen to kindly explained that it isn’t really a budget, per se. It is a wish list. Congress gets to make the final decisions, then gives it back for approval. That will take a lot of time, a lot of arguments, a lot of letters to senators and representatives.
So what is in that wish list? He says he wants to root out “waste and fraud.” His chopping block items include health care, student loans/debt forgiveness, affordable housing, Medicare and Medicaid, food subsidies (SNAP: Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), issues affecting the environment like the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts, funding for National Parks, roll-backs to emissions standards for factories and vehicles.
He also wants to keep that income tax credit in place for his wealthy friends and increase money to the military. I thought we were going to stop funding “endless wars?” And the Space Force needs military money, too. But that’s a topic for another day.
All this for $4,800,000,000,000.00 ($4.8 trillion) which will add $3,400,000,000,000.00 ($3.4 trillion) to the national debt by 2024 (four years from now, hmmm).
Back on September 3, 2019, I posted a blog about the national debt when it was about $22 trillion. I found out that four trillion one-dollar bills laid end to end will reach all the way from the earth to the moon. So that’s a lot of money.
Part of the $4.8 trillion must go to pay down the national debt. It’s a law. But deficit spending continues. And the national debt continues to rise. Clearly, living within our means as a country, as a society, is not realistic.
Investing in our future, though, that’s something we could do. Helping each other live well, teaching our children the importance of planning and implementing ideas that will benefit the most people and make the biggest positive impact, doing what we can to protect our Earth and the life she sustains, we can start there.
Here’s the link to the Senate’s recap of the president’s proposed 2020 budget. https://www.budget.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/SBC%20Trump%20Budget%20Reaction%203-20-19%20FINAL.pdf
Use this link to find your representative in the US Congress, your state, your county, and your city. http://myreps.datamade.us Type in your address and click the search button. Decide which item is most important and write a letter to whoever needs to hear your ideas.
-—stay curious! (and sharpen your pencil)