One Eyed Jack

Back in the late 70’s and early 80’s, my brother and I spent many road trips in the back of my mother’s station wagon. Booster seats didn’t exist, there were no such thing as air bags and seat belts were just something you tucked into the crack of the seat to get them out of the way. We were simply tossed into the back cargo area like loosely packed groceries.

There were no handheld gaming devices or cell phones – we had one of those primitive triangular peg board puzzle games and the Rubic’s Cube.  Most of the time we would just sit back there and watch the other cars.  Like many kids on long trips we found amusement in waving to anyone who would wave back, signaling truck drivers to blow their horns… but, our favorite pass time was One Eyed Jack.

If you were playing One Eyed Jack, you had your nose pressed against the window and would once-over every car driving on the road… the shiny cars, the dirty cars, the new cars, the old cars, the fancy Cadillac’s and the dilapidated rust buckets. What you were looking for was a car with a broken headlight (a one eyed jack), and when you spotted one, you had to be the first to yell out “ONE EYED JACK!”, and then punch the other kid in the leg as hard as you could.  The game doesn’t sound like much now, but it sure helps time go by when your eight years old and trapped in the back of the family wagon.  Your average thirty minute car ride would typically yield 6-7 One-Eyed Jack’s.

I don’t know about you, but it’s been quite some time since I drove through town and saw anyone driving any automobile that was more than five years old.  When you stop and think about that… Doesn’t that seem odd?  Everything is big, brand new and shiny.  Is this natural?  How can it be, that all of a sudden, EVERYBODY can afford to drive new cars, drink $5 Starbucks twice a day and spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on home improvements? The answer is… they can’t.  

Chances are at some point in your life you’re going to buy a home that requires financing, take on an auto loan and for convenience’s sake, manage a credit card balance.  Get a mortgage the makes sense (something that actually pays off principle), something traditional (like a 30 year fixed) and more importantly – make sure that payment is comfortably within your means. 

For many, credit too often becomes a highly addictive hallucinogen enabling it’s dependants to bite off more than they should chew with no regard for current or future financial situations.  Ironically, at first credit casts the deceptive appearance of being your best buddy, when in actuality, it’s the devil in disguise. Credit lets you imagine yourself into another league, it allows you to live over and above your means while it quietly digs you deeper and deeper into debt. 

  • Make no payments for 12 months!
  • Open a Sears Charge Card and save 10%
  • Make the most of soaring home prices and open an equity line of credit today!
  • Apply for an interest only mortgage while your new dream home continues to appreciate and build equity! 
  • You won’t be turned down!
  • Simply transfer your balance and pay no interest for 12 months.
  • Call 1-800-UR-SCREWED now to instantly qualify for a $20,000 line of credit.

Millions of Gen X’ers have been stumbling around too long with credit goggles.  Apparently, when you look through these lenses -everything is affordable. Why not have everything you want for just one small payment?!!

Nothing beats the smell of a new car, but the last thing you want to do is spread yourself too thin with auto payments.  If you’re at a point in your life where you can afford the new Lexus ES -then have at it, if not, then take a look at the Camry – they’re both Toyota’s anyway. And if that’s not comfortable enough for you, then go for the real value and purchase a pre-owned.  Most dealers now give a three year bumper to bumper warranty’s on pre-owned vehicles and you can save yourself ten’s of thousand’s of dollars since they’re not brand new.

High ticket items target two types of people – those who can afford them and those who have enough credit.  Credit is especially dangerous when used to subsidize income.  Once this snowball starts rolling, it doesn’t take long for debt to start showing its true colors often proving to be detrimental to your financial health, stability and has the uncanny knack of spiraling out of control while it feeds upon greed and want.

In the end, we are all responsible for making our own decisions, but with the full support of the government and it’s borrowing more money to make the economy stronger philosophy,  those crafty banks and credit card companies sure did make it easy for the average American consumer to get themselves into a heap of trouble.  

Adding high priced fuel to the fire… As real estate values tumble, commodity prices violently move higher, wage/employment growth continuing its slide through 30 year lows and after 20 propitious years of playing bad loan hot potato, the capital markets have been rapidly disintegrating with the banks and money lenders leading the way to Armageddon.

There’s an old cowboy wisdom that states “If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing you should do is stop digging.”  If you’re one of the many X’ers out there who has spent yourself into a corner – Get your debt under control, cut up those credit cards and sit down with a financial planner to figure out the best way to manage your current debt so you can start saving. 

These recessionary times are tough and getting tougher by the day.  Spend wisely and use credit sparingly.  There’s not a  new car in the world can make a man feel as good as a sound nights sleep.

Regular Joe

Sleep is the interest we have to pay on the capital which is called in at death; and the higher the rate of interest and the more regularly it is paid, the further the date of redemption is postponed.  ~Arthur Schopenhauer

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