Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Nickel and Dimed

Subect: Personal and Social Commentary

Trying to get ahead in the USA these days is difficult. In my opinion, to get ahead you have to ignore some things that happen in our world. Slave labor, abusive employers, horrible living conditions, and other such atrocities that enable us to be the haves in the world. Many things we have are on the backs of those you don't have choices. Just living here makes me guilty as the next, so I'm no angel. I do try to be aware, and make the choices I can.

I guess in a way, I'm trying to get ahead. By going to school to increase my earning potential, that's exactly what I'm doing. What I really want is to make a living. I'm not looking to be wealthy. I don't have wealth skills, and not really sure I care too. I'm just not the over-consumer type. All the possesions I own could probably fit in the back of my truck (but here in Florida, they'd get wet). In reality, I probably have too much.

When I started Personal Training over twenty years ago, you could make a really good living at it. Now-a-days, here in central Florida, it's much more difficult. The market is glutted. Many trainers are part-time. Many are new to the industry, willing to work for lower wages. Price-wise, this is good for the consumer. Quality-wise, not so good. No matter. The public seems less and less interested in heath and fitness, until they become unheathy that is. Then they expect the medical profession to fix the problem. Anyway, my interest in the business is less, but my interest in fitness isn't.

The hard part of my endeavor is keep my head above water. This moring, I received a notice of a Lien being put on my truck. In defense of the finance company, I was late. With the distractions of the holidays, I'd missed that payment. As soon as I received a late notice, I sent it off -next-day-air even. That was just before Christmas. The date on the late notice was for December 19th. The date on the Lien was December 8th. In other words, the finance company had to put forth the collection to the agency before my normally due date. Before the "due on" date. Something smells fishy.

In the world of the low income, this is called Nickel and Dimed. This happens to many low income wage earners. The red-tape style Nickel and Diming that goes on cause many hard working Americans to be kept down. They cannot get out of the hole, much less ahead. Auto, insurance, health care, child care, even housing is sometimes insurmountable. Housing costs here in Orlando are outrageous. There are very few apartment due to the condo conversions (I hope the greedy developers discover the land of Nickel and Dimed).

Barbara Ehrenreich wrote about Nickel and Dimed - the title of one of her books I've been reading:

I would like to say this book has had an effect on my, but when I read it, she's preaching to the choir. I've lived it. But, I have the skills. I know how to survive like this. I don't have the skill of high income and wealth. Many people don't realize that attaining wealth is a skill, but so is keeping it. And using it. It's a myth that wealthy people get to lie back and enjoy the fruits of their labor. That once they attain their wealth, they no longer have to work. They still have to work, the tasks are simply different. The skill set is different.

The difference is; most wealth can afford being Nickel and Dimed. Or better yet, they know what to do to avoid being Nickel and Dimed. If they hit, they have the funds to fight being Nickel and Dimed. Low income earners don't have those options.

I'm being Nickel and Dimed right now myself. Some of it is my fault. ADD people tend to not be good with money (hmmm, maybe I could claim discrimination?). But, some of it is the greed of others. Some of it is the proper application of confusopoly by others.

I won't always be Nickel and Dimed. I'm focus on my technology education and will eventually have more options. Until then, I'll probably be Nickel and Dimed a few more times. But, with the help of information from Clark Howard, I'll prevent some of it. When I have enough education that I can get a good tech job, I'll be able to fight some of the Nickel and Diming.

In the meantime, send a few Nickel and Dimes my way. Click on the book link above, and buy a copy of Nickel and Dimed. (No, this entire post wasn't meant to be a commercial)

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