The most important thing in planning for the future, even for the end of the world as some Mayan doomsayers, is having the appropriate budget so you can have money for any end-of-the-world last minute sales and anything else that you might need. If you are having an end-of-the-world party, and sure it is several years before the Mayan prophecy (which I think isn’t half as scary as the number of people that are unemployed these days), but it pays to plan ahead.
If you are running a business, make sure that you have a lot of water for sale, blankets, and canned foods. Nothing will be great for business better than last minute purchases for water and sundries. Sure, money will be meaningless at that point but as people use to say, people who have the most cash or toys when they die win. Either that or they are still dead.
What if the end of the world doesn’t come? Ah, well then how about a more practical budget where you can actually save money and keep living?
Make sure that you have enough money for food, water, shelter and warm clothing. If you are in winter climates, if you can, think about leaving for warmer climates or make sure that you have energy. If you are on unemployment or have Cobra payment plans, make sure that you are current with your reporting and payments respectively. You need to keep the income stream flowing (even though it is a small one, it is better than nothing) and you need to have medical coverage. The nationwide Federal Stimulus package should help with that.
Keep your sense of humor, even if it seems a bit on the dark side (like this blog entry) but deep down be like me and be the eternal optimist. Yes, things are bad and yes it is hard. There is still a lot of money staying stuck in constipated mode in the banking system and it needs to make it’s way out to people who need it. Even though everybody is planning on saving all their money, people still need to eat, sleep and stay warm. Also habits are tough to break and everybody has some addiction or vice that they are using to cope through things so try and insure that you are placing money in our budget for things like that. It may be a great time to give up smoking, but if you are doing it at the same time you are a nervous wreck, you may be jeopardizing your health.
Keep food on hand for six months if it is canned – I wouldn’t go survival end-of-the-world nuts only because things expire. It makes sense to keep a few gallons of water around the house, especially if you live in desert areas such as parts of the Western United States.
Be prepared still to pay taxes. I suggest that for overkill that you have a third of your income put aside for tax liabilities for people who are working and making good money. That should cover the Federal income taxes and a portion of any State taxes. We don’t know how long AMT (the Alternative Minimum Tax – see some of my other blogs) will be “on hold”. There are so many people who need money that I wonder what the IRS will be doing to go after people who are in the extreme wealth tax brackets. I have no idea. Make sure that you are saving your receipts and if you are making donations for charity that you are getting letters from the organizations and you are paying by check to keep a paper trail. I know that Fat Tuesday is over but it doesn’t hurt for some Not So End of the World advice to make it through to an awesome financial afterlife. Or at least you might get a bigger tax refund at tax time. It is one or the other I guess. It is very easy to get caught up in hysteria – and there is a lot of it and some of it justifiable – but you still have to pay your taxes. I have been getting a lot of comments and e-mails and my advice is pretty much the same. Vote with your pocket book and at this coming election in March. Vote in State elections and if you have problems with people in office, vote them out or run yourself. Do not try to avoid paying taxes. Not only is it against the law, it will get you in trouble in other ways down the line as well. If you are planning on buying a home, a boat or anything in the future or even getting a business line of credit, you will possibly and in some cases certainly need to show your tax returns. That is the way it goes. Okay, I am off my soapbox on that point.
If you are looking for financial investments all I can tell you is that for right now, cash is still king (I’ve been saying that for months now) but I am honestly looking for something that isn’t a con to put money in to get a reasonable rate of return. No, I am not talking about Forex or other deals that are being hyped on the Internet. I am talking about practical things. Any investment that is genuinely in the infrastructure, if it applies to actual construction, may or may not be considered “green” has the potential not only for making money but being politically correct (whatever that means in this day and age).
So, sorry if the end-0f-the-world isn’t going to be with giant monsters, aliens or explosions. It isn’t going to happen other than you maybe running out of cash or going deeper into debt than you would like to. For whatever reason it is worth, you are not alone and historically tough times don’t last forever.
Be safe, happy (for your sanity and it helps you make clearer decisions), healthy and try to hang onto your wealth.
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Kim Isaac Greenblatt
How To Budget Your Money For the End of the World