From the Editor’s Desk

Gary Foreman

Some Good News We Can All Agree On

Hello to all my Frugal Friends!

I’m betting that we all could use a little good news about now. Something that we all can agree on. Here’s something that qualifies. It’s reported that last year was another record breaking 1 year drop in cancer deaths. (source: Cancer.org)

“The death rate from cancer in the United States has continued to decline. From 1991 to 2018, the cancer death rate has fallen 31%.  This includes a 2.4% decline from 2017 to 2018—a new record for the largest 1-year drop in the cancer death rate. This most recent cancer data is 2 to 4 years behind the current year because of the time it takes to collect data, interpret it, ensure its quality, and share it.”

That’s not to say that it’s all good news. “The report estimates that in the US in 2021, almost 1.9 million new cancer cases will be diagnosed. And more than 600,000 people will die from cancer.” We mourn anyone who dies from cancer. Even one is too many. But we can celebrate those who would have died in the past but survive today.

While we’re on the topic of health, I’d like to share something that I think (but can’t definitively prove) is true. I’ve noticed that people are often either healthy or sick in all three areas of their lives (physical, emotional, spiritual). For instance, it is commonly assumed that people who are stressed over finances can suffer from indigestion and ulcers. If you’re dealing with some money problems you might want to read Could Financial Problems Be Causing Your Health Troubles?

Another place where finances and health intersect is in the cost of staying healthy. Whether you work out at a gym or take supplements, there’s often a cost involved in working to stay healthy. If that sounds like your life, you’ll find When Financial Goals and Health Goals Collide of interest.

Finally, an administrative note. As I mentioned last week, we want to bring you as much useful information as we can. So we’re going to combine The Dollar Stretcher and Surviving Tough Times newsletters. If you’re subscribed to either one, beginning next week you’ll be getting two newsletters a week. Each one featuring different articles with a variety of ways to save money.

Keep on Stretching those Dollars!
Gary

A Commitment to Financial Literacy Is Saving You Money

Hello to all my Frugal Friends!

“Financial illiteracy and personal financial problems have reached epidemic level. Little is being done – personal finance is not taught at most schools or by most parents. People are still learning about money via the “school of hard knocks” and have few trusted sources for content with true educational value. This situation leads many to persistent long-term financial problems, obstacles, and stress.” (source: National Financial Educators Council website)

Last year they did a survey asking people to estimate how much money their lack of education cost them. $1,200 was the estimate for the prior year’s loss.

That’s why I’m glad that you’re here. You’re making a difference in your finances and in your life. We’ll do our best to help you along the way.

Here are just a few of the hundreds of ways to help your finances that are available to you:

So I invite you to help yourself to a big batch of practical financial information! Save some of that $1,200 that other less informed people are wasting each year. Oh, and if you know one of those people, invite them to subscribe to The Dollar Stretcher.

On a different note, I wanted to share something that I think will benefit all of our readers. Back in 2006 we began a newsletter called “Inflation Fighters” that dealt with the rising prices of the time. When the recession of 2008 hit, we redirected it to “Surviving Tough Times” and it’s continued that way until now.

We have some great articles coming up that we want to share with all of our readers. So beginning in February we’re going to combine “Surviving Tough Times” with “The Dollar Stretcher.”

How will this benefit you? We’re going to deliver The Dollar Stretcher twice a week. Different articles in each issue. Whether you currently are a subscriber to The Dollar Stretcher or Surviving Tough Times, beginning January 31, you will receive The Dollar Stretcher both Sunday evening and Wednesday morning.

If you’re currently only receiving Surviving Tough Times, you might want to add dollar-stretcher@hub.thedollarstretcher.com, the email address from which The Dollar Stretcher is delivered, to your list of emails that you want to see.

Our goal is to make as much useful information as we can available to you.

Keep on Stretching those Dollars!
Gary

A Look at Government Waste

Hello to all my Frugal Friends!

As Dollar Stretchers, we all dislike waste. I don’t like throwing out food that’s gone bad in the back of the fridge. I don’t like overpaying for an auto repair. I don’t like spending money on something that doesn’t do what it should. And I don’t like spending money on things that are useless.

Another area where I don’t like to spend money is on government waste. That’s why I found the Festivus Report on government waste particularly interesting. It highlighted $54 billion of your dollars that were spent with very little, if anything, to show for it.

I know that $54 billion is a tiny fraction of the $6.5 trillion that the federal government spent this year. But let’s put it in perspective. The spending highlighted in the report averages $10,006 per taxpayer. I don’t know about you, but I sure didn’t waste $10k of my own money last year! And I doubt that you did either! Or how about this? $54 billion is enough to buy EVERY American a 40″ flat screen TV.

If you’d like to know what the money was spent on, I’ve selected a few items for your review.

  • Asks why stress makes hair turn grey (NIH) $36,831,620
  • Gives cigarettes to adolescent kids (NIH) $896,994
  • Tested if hot tubbing can lower stress (NIH) $2,004,704
  • Spends 5 years monitoring elections in Zimbabwe (USAID) $10,000,000
  • Helps disconnected Tunisian youth not feel like a problem (USAID) $48,000,000
  • Develops a wearable headset to track eating behavior (NSF) $2,075,074
  • Lost equipment designated for Syrians fighting ISIS (DOD) $715,800,000
  • Bought COVID test tubes but received unusable soda bottles (FEMA) $10,502,997
  • Sprayed alcoholic rats with bobcat urine (NIH and VA) $4,575,431

Seems like they’ve covered most of the major ways to waste money. Ranging from the stupid, to the dangerous, to the none of our business, to the silly, to the hoodwinked.

I hate to admit it being angry, but I can’t help it when they waste that much money while you and I struggles to save a few dollars. Plus, I’m betting that there’s much more that could be found if someone took a good hard look at ALL the ways our government spends money.

What can you and I do about it? Probably not much unless the President gets the ability to have a line item veto. That way, members of Congress (and their K Street lobbying friends) can’t stuff all this wasteful spending into so-called ‘omnibus’ bills. The way it works now is they wait for a bill that must pass (COVID relief or a continuing spending resolution) and tack on things that have nothing to do with the main bill.

Perhaps you’d like to join me and send a copy of this to your representative and 2 senators. You can find your rep’s email address here and your senators’ here.

Maybe if enough of us raise a fuss about the waste, we might actually get them to stop. Then again, unless there’s a groundswell all across the country that gets noticed, we’ll probably get another Festivus report next year of another batch of wasteful government expenditures.

Keep on Stretching those Dollars!
Gary

About the Author

Gary Foreman is a former financial planner and purchasing manager who founded The Dollar Stretcher.com website and newsletters in 1996. He's the author of How to Conquer Debt No Matter How Much You Have and he's been featured in MSN Money, Yahoo Finance, Fox Business, The Nightly Business Report, US News Money, Credit.com and CreditCards.com. Gary shares his philosophy of money here. Gary is available for audio, video or print interviews. For more info see his media page.

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