Don’t be fooled one minute by the politicians in Washington DC.
The economic stimulus package hailed by Congress and seemingly supported by the President is to provide as many as 116 million tax filers with a check for $600 to $1,200 (perhaps more if you have children). But all they’re doing is basically returning money we’ve already paid into the U.S. Treasury. And to do what?
Spend it, according to Democrats and Republicans alike.
These policians and their team of experts believe that what we need to avoid a recession is more consumption. They want us to spend our way out of a recession. Forget that “free markets” go through economic cycles of bulls and bears. Forget about our spiralling federal deficit. Forget about the mounting cost of numerous wars being waged on several fronts to fight terrorism — a bill the next generations will be picking up the tab for. Forget about global warming, collapsing bridges, our addiction to oil. Forget about the highly questionable fiscal shape of Social Security and Medicare in the coming years when about 78 million Americans are fully “retired” and need some money to live on and pay for the doctor bills.
Just take your token windfall and blow it on a new plasma TV, or something else you’ve always wanted.
Last time I checked, however, most of what we buy these days is made by someone living in a country far, far away. So a good portion of the money we spend leaves the country, unless, of course, you’re a supporter of the Small Mart Revolution, buying local, from neighbors or roughly from the region in which you live. How is buying stuff made from far away places going to help our community remain economically viable?
Instead of spending, consider investing for a cleaner, greener future. Invest in conservation and efficiency, replacing leaky windows or switching incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs. According to Home Power magazine, the compact fluorescent blubs provide a guaranteed, 120-percent return on your investment over the life of the bulb. Try to get that kind of return on investment on Wall Street.
You could also invest in renewable energy systems like a residential wind turbine system, photovoltaic system and solar thermal system, all of which we incorporated into our operations at Inn Serendipity. We now generate more electricity than we use and get paid by our utility company.
Or we can invest in our community, helping support organizations and institutions that serve the common good. Maybe, we can plant some trees to help mitigate carbon emissions that are contributing to global warming. Or invest in a community supported agriculture (CSA) operation, where, as CSA shareholders, you receive fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables from the farmers in your community.
Alternatively, rather than filling up your home with more stuff, take this opportunity to seize control of your finances by getting rid of as much of your debt as possible. That’s right, save. Stop letting BIG FINANCE ruin your life by gorging you with interest payments on your home, car, and credit cards. We’ve discovered that if you want to feel wealthy, try having as few expenses as possible.
A penny saved can be a dollar earned when you make wise investments in energy conservation and efficiency, local food systems, and renewable energy systems as my wife and I have discovered at our home and home-based business. Our success in achieving our version of the “good life” is captured in the pages of our Rural Renaissance book. Our financial recipe for a richer life is reflected in ourECOpreneuring book, due out in May, 2008.
Suffice to say, we created the good life without spending a penny.