An Alternative Idea to Government Stimulus

An Alternative Idea to Government Stimulus

I have been thinking a lot how much easier all our lives would be if Congress acted like they are supposed to, and I mean abiding by their own rules and regulations not arguing whether spending like Keynes on Crack with a Black Amex is a good idea.

The first idea I came up with was instituting a sort of PAYGO system to your personal finances, then I it hit me last night, what if everyone (including the government) just audited themselves to determine whether they were efficiently spending money.

Could you imagine how much the government would save if they could just figure out what is a complete and utter waste of money, or outlawed all no-bid contracts.

Examples of a Wasteful Government

Citizens Against Government Waste, a non-profit, no partisan organization puts out a full and complete list of the year’s pork projects.  This year,

The Pig Book revealed 9,129 earmarks worth $16.5 billion.

Some examples include,

$465,000,000 for the alternate engine for the Joint Strike Fighter;

$5,000,000 for the Presidio Heritage Center in California;

$1,000,000 for Portsmouth Music Hall in New Hampshire;

$400,000 for the USA Swimming Foundation in New Jersey

$300,000 for Carnegie Hall in New York City

$250,000 for the Monroe County Farmer’s Market in Kentucky;

$200,000 for the Washington National Opera in the District of Columbia; and

$206,000 for wool research in Montana, Texas, and Wyoming.

Will making any of single one of these projects more efficient fix our $12 trillion deficit? Nope. but a collective effort to make all spending efficient may help future generations.

Examples of How You can be More Personal Finance Efficient

I don’t use a budget, but what I do is try to optimize what I consider my fixed expenses.   Some of my fixed expenses may seem ridiculous to those frugal-elitest out there (the Sirius Promotion,  the wife’s car which we lease, me purchasing a relatively nice car rather than a beater ,etc.).

I work damn hard so if I want to spend $7 bucks a month on satellite radio I should be able to.  But what I shouldn’t be doing is paying $14 when I can get it for $7. For me, it is all about efficiency with every outgoing dollar.

I haven’t done it in a while, but every couple months I like to take stock of those fixed expenses and see what I can lower to save some money without budgeting down to the penny.  It is all about the efficiency of a dollar.

  • Auto, Home & Other Protection Policies
  • Cable, Internet & Phone
  • Consumer Debt & Credit Card Interest
  • Real Estate Carrying Costs
  • Utilities
  • Banking and Investment costs

Since I am pretty open on this site, I will go into a few of the categories above.  Some are huge and deserve their own post (Real Estate Costs & Banking/Investment costs).

Protection Policies

I shopped the main stuff (Auto & Home) hard in 2008 and got a great deal.  I haven’t done it since because to be honest it is a pain.  Each policy quote looks difference and I have to search out all the information to put it in a table form to make sure I am comparing apples to apples.  Is it a good reason? Nope.  So before the end of the year I will make it a goal to step this up!

I absolutely need to get malpractice insurance and I will be looking to purchase additional life insurance as the baby comes closer.

What about you? Have you priced out your protection policies lately?

Cable, Internet & Phone

I can’t be the only one who feels like they are getting ripped off every time the cable company automatically deducts from your checking account.  I pay way more than the advertised triple play that is all over the country and I don’t even have a land line with the cable company!

Forget end of the year, this will be done next week.

Ever try to price this out? Are you able to choose any provider?

Consumer Debt & Credit Card Interest

The first thing The Wife and I did in our quest to pay off all credit cards was to get as much of the debt on 0% credit cards.   This way more and more of your payments will be applied to principal rather than interest.

I actually just refinanced my car earlier this year – is your auto loan or school loan APR as low as they can be? If not it may be time to refinance.

What fixed expenses am I missing? Do you do this every so often or am I being anal?

12 Responses to An Alternative Idea to Government Stimulus

  1. A lot of folks overlook refinancing car loans. If you don’t have the lowest rate possible, do yourself a favor and shop around…like you said – make the outgoing money as efficient as possible!

  2. Here’s one thing about “pork barrel projects” that really irks me. Any average America you speak with about pork barrel will tell you it’s “wasted money.” But that money is usually spent on something important to the representative’s hometown. So, yeah, looking at that list makes me think, “Oh, what a waste!” But if it was something for Knoxville or my hometown, I’d be all about it, and I think most of us feel the same about that.

    Of course there needs to be some stringent auditing going on of projects that Congress approves. The unfortunate part is that there are already oversight committees that are supposedly responsible for that. To me, the best thing the government could do to balance its budget is severely cut back on entitlement programs (Social Security, Medicaid, Welfare). Entitlment programs eat up most of the federal government’s budget. I also think people in Congress should be term limited. No wonder there’s so much greed and corruption when you can be elected over and over and over.

  3. The pork barrel projects you mentioned, if they are so important locally,
    let them be paid locally-state, county, city or township. Otherwise they are looked upon as “free” money. And if local money is spent normally a closer look is made on how the funds are spent.

    On thing rarely talked about regarding federal spending and many federal programs is the amount of mischief they cause to the economy. Recently a small contractor in the St. Louis area, the owner and one employee, is being hassled by OSHA regarding alleged safety violations on a small tuckpointing job. If there is a problem let the state of Missouri, or St. Louis County deal with it not the feds. I’m sure there are hundreds, if not thousands of examples like this, and the damage they do to the economy is considerable.

  4. I think corruption is behind every wasteful government expending. Why else would they continue to pursue such projects if those corrupt officials are not benefiting in the first place.

    Just a thought. :-)

  5. I like how you talk about each of the projects not being a lot of money but together they add up to a lot! It’s the same with personal finances. The $6 drink isn’t much but too many of those type of expenses and you end up broke!

    Unfortunately the “scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” political model has been around since our nation started (Hamilton/Jefferson’s great compromise). Nowadays the exchanges are money for local projects to keep congressman electable and in office. Not saying it’s right, just that’s what it is.

    • Completely agree – the Country was founded on compromise and the proverbial scratching of backs but the founding fathers would never have imagined a federal gov’t this big!

  6. Evan,

    Last year I created an insurance spread sheet and shopped for better property & liability insurance rates. I have lots of single family rentals plus some commercial properties so it’s a huge project BUT I saved over $5K on the annual premiums.

    I also moved my cell phone service from Verizon to Sprint and saved $50 a month.

    Today, I’m calling DirectTV to ask for a few months of NFL Sunday ticket for free. I don’t need nor do I want to pay for the whole season but I’m pretty sure they’ll give me a free month or 2 if I threaten to move my account to DISH. What’s the worst that could happen?

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