Resolutions and Stimulus Checks
by Doyle Ranstrom on Jan 1, 2021
A friend of mine told me her New Year's Resolution was to not drink anymore. She then said she was not going to drink any less, just not anymore. It is good to have realistic resolutions.
I have never been a big resolution person, but I will make a few this year. I did think about giving up all my bad habits, but then I remember my Mom telling me no one likes a quitter.
One ongoing resolution is to provide information and comments which are backed by independent academic research. For example, people often ask me why birds fly south for the winter. After looking into the question, I realize the main reason is it's too far to walk.
Another ongoing resolution is to try and be a better person. I have been told many times is that should be easy to achieve. I don't think that is a compliment.
One way of achieving this to think less about myself and more about others, especially those who are struggling financially. I know what it is like to struggle financially, first growing up on a very poor farm in NW Minnesota and then as a young adult when I first became self-employed and made a lot of creative and really dumb mistakes.
If I was a young adult, does that now make me a less young adult?
Since then, I have been blessed with some financial success. But I never forgot what it was like to have a family and struggle financially.
Today, there are hundreds of thousands of households struggling financially, through no fault of their own.
There are also many households who are doing well financially, again often through no fault of their own. The adults in many of these households doing well made a very smart decision at birth, they picked wealthy parents.
Before going further, it is important to note three financial statistics that I discuss at the beginning of my "Long Term Trends..." presentation. One, the median household income in the US is about $62,000 [2018 US Bureau of Statistics]. Two, the median financial asset of any type in the US is $23,500 [2018 Federal Reserve Study]. Three, about 40% of households if they needed $400, could not come up with this cash unless they borrowed it or sold something [2017 Report of Economic Well-Being]. Keep in mind, all of these statistics are before the pandemic and I suspect the median household income has declined as has the median financial assets while the percentage of households that cannot come up with $400 in cash will increase. Finally, it is important to note the majority of these people are working poor.
Congress just passed a stimulus package that provides cash payments directly to qualifying individuals. The direct cash payments, in my opinion, are not large enough and should have taken place sooner, but they will enable thousands of households to survive a little longer financially. [For those worried about the top 1%, there are tens of billions of tax benefits in the package for them along with benefits for lobbyists and special interests.]
For those like our little household who do not need the stimulus check, spend it, or gift it immediately. Do not save this money or forget about it. Charities to which we will gift our stimulus checks include two food banks that we support and two churches which we also support. Each of these churches is very active with the homeless, low-income community, and disenfranchised. If you choose to spend it, look for opportunities in which the cash will move through the economy doing the most good for low-income workers and small businesses. In either case, the day it shows up in your checking account, make sure it is gone by the next day.
One last resolution is to be thankful on a daily basis. For example, I will be thankful for my rugged good looks and pleasing personality. No one else sees this, but I have always assumed it is because of the radiance coming from my golden hair-free dome is so blinding in its brilliance others do not see past it.