Cash for Clunkers is ending on Monday. The plan was so popular that it is running out of money again and there seems to be no extension of the program.
In theory this sounded like a great plan and has definitely stimulated the car industry because people were interested in purchasing a new car that would be more fuel efficient. One problem I had with the program is that people were allowed to buy any car, instead of just offering the program for more fuel efficient American made cars. Another issue, is will the people who are buying the new cars really be able to afford the car?
When the program ends will people still be as eager to buy a new car?
“The effectivenessof the ‘cash-for-clunkers’ program will be judged in a number of ways, but a key measure will be how does the automotive market respond to the absence of the ‘clunkers’ incentive to buy now?” said Jack Nerad, editorial director at auto pricing trackers Kelley Blue Book, in a statement.
The Cash for Clunkers program is similar to loss leaders for general merchandise stores. When there are no sales or incentives for consumers to buy anything will they still want to buy items? Temporarily, car manufacturers needed to go ahead and make more cars but will this resurgence make a big difference in a few weeks or month when the incentive is not available?
The recession is ending, depending on whose opinion you believe, but even though economists and business people may want you to believe that the recession is over, there is still a problem that hasn’t reached its peak – foreclosures. Money.com reports that about 9% of homeowners are delinquent on their mortgages and the number is intended to rise in the fall.
What the rate does not include, however, are loans already in foreclosure. Some 4.3% of all the mortgages are in that stage, up from 3.85% three months earlier and 1.55 percentage points from one year ago.
Even if all of the people who are unemployed or underemployed try to recover and begin paying their mortgages again, it may take a while for people to recover if they haven’t already entered into the foreclosure.
The Mortgage Bankers Association also notes that “The states of California, Florida, Arizona and Nevada continue to have a disproportionately high share of foreclosure starts, although the share has fallen slightly from last quarter. Those four states had 44 percent of all of the nation’s new foreclosures during the second quarter of this year, down from 46 percent in the first quarter.”
Just because the numbers are dropping on the foreclosure rates doesn’t mean that the problem is over. The delinquency rates are breaking records and being the highest ever since the MBA began keeping records in 1972.
The MBA’s final statement says it all…
“As for the outlook, it is unlikely we will see meaningful reductions in the foreclosure and delinquency rates until the employment situation improves. In addition, in some areas where a number of borrowers have mortgages that are larger than the current value of their homes, any life events such a divorce or loss of a job are likely to translate into foreclosures until prices in those areas recover, not just flatten.
For those who think that eating for $50 a week is too expensive.
Here is something that might be more in your price range – $1 a day.
A couple of social justice teachers decided to live off of $1 a day since many people in the world do it. For a month long experiment, they set up rules for themselves and a budget. Meals for a day would cost no more than a dollar. No free food or donated food unless it was available to everyone.
They had a vegetarian diet and for those who do like meat, even in moderation, it is difficult to buy meat for $1 a serving.
Eating for a dollar a meal is challenging enough, but a day? The couple does acknowledge that their experiment wasn’t exactly the healthiest because they couldn’t always get fresh vegetables and produce.
The experiment highlights that number of people in the world who must survive on a dollar a day or less. The quality and amount of food that people can consume for 100 pennies isn’t always the healthiest.
Prior to this experiment, the couple said they were spending about $56 a person for food a week and that after their experiment they have become more aware of their eating habits. Even for $50 a person a week, buying fresh produce, seafood and meat is difficult.
Creative budgeting and spending very little for meals is an issue that many face in this country. Especially when faced with dollar value and 99¢ meals eating healthy is something that is a challenge.
For a person who is not experimenting a dollar a meal could be possible and still have a healthy meal. Dining out would not be an option on a dollar a day diet, even on a dollar a meal dining out would be a challenge. Buying in bulk, and shopping the sales can also help, but also being aware of portion size and snacking less. A couple of commenters mentioned that if the challenge was to eat for a month for $30 that would give more leeway and then also allow buying more expensive items that could be split among several meals – such a chicken or roast. The couple admits that they did lose weight on this experiment and have a book chronicling their experiences due out next year.
Could you really cut your grocery bill to $1 a day and be healthy?
A story about a “frugal immigrant” caught my eye today. An Austrian lady whose monthly income was approximately $2000 a month but expenditures were only $500 was remarkable. Some of the things that she did to save money were more than frugal. They were just cheap. Instead of buying a card for someone else, she would cross the name off the card and write hers before sending the greeting card on to someone else. She paid very little in rent because she reported code violations and the landlord was not able to have his rent increases approved. Also, she had her phone number listed under someone else’s name instead of paying for an unlisted number. When her neighbor took her to a meal at a local diner she would take sugar and cream packets, and bring jars to take coffee home, in addition to taking the rest of her meal home. In the end this lady was able to amass a small fortune of $300,000, half of which she gave to charity and the remainder to friends.
Another story also highlighted younger peopletaking advantage of amenities. This is not very unusual, though some younger (and unemployed) people who are affected by the recession are finding that they are unable to get free WiFi in coffee shops or the hours that they can get free WiFi are limited because they are taking space from actual patrons who are spending money not nursing a coffee all day long.
Being frugal is great!But many of the things that the immigrant did and free WiFi users do are not frugal – they are just downright cheap.
There is nothing wrong with taking the rest of your meal home from restaurants, or using free WiFi if you are a customer, it is when you abuse privileges that the rest of the customers suffer. Just like free WiFi is limited at some cafes to an hour or so per person or not at all during certain hours, in some restaurants you must ask for Equal because too many people were taking the extras home with them.
Frugality also means taking what you will use. If you are at a restaurant and they bring something you won’t use, tell them. Why do you think water isn’t automatically served in all restaurants any longer? It is an extra cost and some people didn’t drink the water.
There is frugal and there is cheap and the line can be too easily crossed just to save a few bucks.