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You’re probably wondering what the topic of recycling has to do with finances. Truth be told, a lot. We all know that recycling is good for our ecology. Those of us who live in states where we get charged for items like soda but can get 5 cents back if we return those bottles know that there’s an economic byproduct of doing so.

Fun jar
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At the same time, there are things we buy that maybe we shouldn’t because it’s bad for our environment, and maybe money can be saved by going in another direction. It’s at least something to think about.

There are things that we can reuse over and over again. When you think about it, even if you buy something that’s not biodegradable, and therefore isn’t a great candidate for recycling, that doesn’t mean that maybe you can’t reuse that item in some fashion.

For instance, are you someone who buys big packages of bottled water? These days, you see a lot of advertisements frowning on people buying bottled water, saying that the plastic the water comes in isn’t always the best to break down and reuse again. That, plus the fact that not all bottled water is anything more special than just tap water.

Usually a pack of water comes with anywhere from 24 to 30 bottles. Why not just reuse all those bottles instead of buying more packages? You pretty much only have to rinse them out and fill them up with more water, put them in the refrigerator and you’re good to go.

I do that with soda bottles, the sturdy ones. I have 18 of them in my refrigerator and I use them over and over until they start getting a bit soft. Then I put them in a plastic bag that my wife returns to get the deposit and start over again. Look at the money I save by not buying bottled water.

Do you get plastic or paper when you go the grocery store? Most people get plastic because it’s easier to carry the plastic bags than it is to carry paper. Paper is better as far as recycling goes, but you can find multiple uses for the plastic bags in your own home.

For instance, if you have a lot of wires sitting in a drawer, you could straighten up that drawer by putting all those wires in a bag. Then go through that door and see what other things you have that you can bunch together and put in a bag. You can make your drawer look better, and make it easier to find things are looking for.

What about things such as shoe boxes or other boxes of similar size? Those are good candidates for recycling, but you can also use those things for storage as well as you can use the plastic bags. As a matter of fact, if you ever hire an organizer that’s something that they’re going to ask you if you have to help you with your record-keeping.

Finally, think about jars. I’m not one of those people who likes to use jars as glasses, but I have been known to take jars with twist on tops, and use them to store things such as screws, money, or any other little things that accumulate. Not only does it make it easier to put everything together, but that you can see through it you always know what it is. True, jars are glass and glass is a great item to recycle, but if you can find a way to use certain glass jars and you’re basically doing your own recycling, and that’s a good thing.

What other ways can you think about that recycles and saves money at the same time?

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I figure it’s time to put my foot in the middle of this debate. Luckily, I believe that my opinion won’t be the death knell of this blog, nor do I believe it will engender lots of hate from either side. Balance; that’s what I like.
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Let’s get this out of the way. In America, the rich already pay the most taxes. It’s not like they can’t afford it but some of them are paying close to 50% of whatever they make. Of course, the smart ones aren’t anywhere close to this amount because they find ways to divest themselves of some of their wealth through investments and donations, and if they strike the right balance they might even find a way to get out of actually paying anything at all.

Still, the majority are paying more taxes by percentage. Should they be?

The main reason, actually the only reason, I’ve ever heard for why they shouldn’t pay more taxes is because they create jobs. I hate saying it this way but that’s a lie that’s been perpetuated for decades. Just last month an article in Business Insider pretty much shut down that myth.

Instead, it said that, though some rich people do create jobs, what really creates jobs is having a robust middle class with money to spend so they can buy more stuff, which in turn gets manufacturers to make more stuff, smart people to create more stuff, and companies having to hire more people to make all that stuff.

Frankly, that’s a nice symbiosis for any country to have, since it’s the middle class that supposedly most of commerce is based on and geared towards. Even though all the billionaires in the world make up more than 2 trillion dollars of wealth, they’re not buying the stuff that the middle class buys; that 1%, with all its wealth, isn’t enough to sustain an economy.

So, now that we got that one out of the way, should the rich pay more taxes? President Obama believes so, as its a cornerstone of the Affordable Care Act. There’s no secret that I like this Act, as I’m a beneficiary of it. However, I acknowledge that it’s still not all that great for much of the middle class. I also acknowledge that, for once, I don’t believe taxing the rich more to pay for this, since they’re not going to be using it, isn’t quite fair either.

Nick Sherman via Compfight

Of course, taxes are more than just about health care. On a federal level taxes pay for our legislators (there’s a good reason not to have to pay any taxes), highways and air traffic safety (good reasons for taxes) and many other things such as disaster relief. We need the money for that and for things like grants for college students, state education and welfare plans. We also need it for Medicare and Social Security, which so many people hate until they’re of age and need it.

Still, should all of this be put on the rich? Well, not exactly. I have some thoughts that I’d like to share on how to help with some of this country’s money issues that shouldn’t overly impact the rich but still helps this country out.

One, I believe that there should be a wealth limit on who’s liable to receive Medicare and Social Security benefits. Did you know that President Reagan, a multimillionaire, collected Medicare benefits and probably collected Social Security? I don’t actually know about the second one but I know about the first.

If I had my way, anyone that had savings or investments of more than a million dollars, or was collecting more than $75,000 a year in retirement, doesn’t qualify for either of these. They don’t need it but millions of other people do. Sure, I hear the argument that they paid into it and should get it; I’m betting they paid into lots of stuff they’re not getting back and got some breaks along the way that their less heeled counterparts didn’t. That would be my first move.

The second thing I’d do is allow the rich to protect half of all their earnings up front. I don’t think it’s fair that someone earned $10 million a year and the government gets half of it.

What I’d do instead is, for anyone who makes more than $750,000 a year, tax half of their earnings at a 50% rate, which means they’d initially owe a flat tax of 25% of all they earned. Then I’d allow for discounts up to 15% based off donations, investments and the like. Almost no one would get away with not paying any taxes in any year unless they owned a small business, incorporated or not, and their business earned less than a 10% increase.

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One more thing I’d do, and this would be very controversial and yet pro-America, is to have very strict rules for companies that aren’t non-profits that employ more than 500 people. My rule would be that any company that moves more than 5% of its workforce out of the country, or cuts more than 5% of its workforce in a year and still makes a profit, doesn’t qualify for a refund, even if they qualify for not paying any taxes. I still remember a story about General Electric a few years ago getting a refund of more than $10 million from the government, which is a pittance to them, but made a profit for the year by laying off employees and closing some of its locations; that irked me to no end.

On the flip side, any company that created at least 5% more jobs that paid an overall average of $20,000 a year would get a tax break. I’m not sure how to do the math to determine what kind of tax break would be fair but let’s face the fact that it’s corporations that create jobs, not rich people, and if they need an incentive to help get people back to work that’s it.

I’ve written other articles over the years giving ways to spur the economy, and I always offer the caveat that my ideas may not be perfect but they’re ideas, something I don’t really see anyone else attempting to come up with. My way, the federal government can make more money, we might put more people back to work which also earns the government more money, the rich aren’t really hurt as badly (at least some of them), some loopholes are closed, and we possibly keep health care funded while having time to work on more serious health issues (such as keeping costs down, reducing medical errors, etc).

At least it’s a thought. I’d like to know your thoughts on what I’ve said and, please, offer your own suggestions on how our government can help get us on the road to recovery… not that we’ll be getting the political parties talking to each other congenially anytime soon anyway…

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Can I ask you a question? What is your mindset as it relates to money? Have you ever thought about it? I bet you haven’t, and if that’s the case, then I’m here to get you thinking about it.

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It’s my belief that I have better habits than you as it pertains to money. It’s also my belief that I have some of the same habits that you have as it pertains to money. Those two things might seem to contradict each other, so let me explain.

When money is tight, or I’m in “protect mode”, I’m the best budgeter you’ve ever seen. Any extra money I get goes directly into the pot to pay bills. I budget everything, from how much money I’m spending on groceries for the week to how much gas I really need to put in the car. If it’s winter and I’m working from home, I’ll drop the heat to the lowest temperature I can stand, put on extra shirts, and throw more covers on the bed.

When money isn’t tight and it’s flowing pretty well, my behavior slightly changes. I still budget for bills, sometimes paying more than what’s expected so I can get ahead. I also don’t withhold myself from buying almost anything I want, within reason. I’m not out there dropping thousands on things, but I will grab a couple hundred and head to the casino more often, or pamper myself with a massage because, hey, my work is stressful.

The main difference between myself and possibly 90% of the population is that I know exactly how much money I have coming in all the time and how much I have going to bills. Even when I’m spending more money, I’m spending money using my debit card or cash rather than piling it onto a credit card, thus my debt isn’t rising. There are expenses I put on my business American Express card that I pay off each month so I can accumulate points, but that’s it.

I tend to believe that how we think about money is how we think about ourselves. Do we live fast and free, taking chances with our lives, or are we a bit more secure, taking calculated risks that can’t hurt us that much but also making sure we’re taking care of our future.

As a special treat, I’m sharing a recent video I did on the subject. I mention my other blog, since that’s the YouTube channel I represent, but it fits here well because of the topic. I ask you to think about how you see money, and if it’s not in your best interest as you see it then figure out where you want to make changes. If you want to see more, check out this article about relationships with money; talk about a timely topic. :-)


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