Poor Man’s Recession Bulletin
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Inside This Issue:
· Assembling Your Own Emergency Kit
· Grow your own food-anywhere
· Useful social networking sites for adults
· Getting dental work
"If we can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people, under the pretence of taking care of them, they must become happy." --Thomas Jefferson
Daylight Wasting Time
Remember on the 14th to change your clock either forward, backward or into another time warp; I can never recall which. Having lived in AZ for many years, it was nice not to worry about changing my clocks as it’s one of the few states, which remains the same all year long.
Every study I’ve seen indicates this is a waste of time as it doesn’t truly save time and in some cases, it actually creates a dangerous situation for school kids as drivers can’t see them in the wee hours.
I think this is a throwback to an earlier time in our history and it helped the farmers; who does it help now?
Nice Resource from AARP-Work Sharing
Work sharing helps employers avoid layoffs during a downturn by cutting work hours and spreading the remaining work among existing employees, who receive pro-rated unemployment benefits. Work sharing may be particularly beneficial for older workers, who often find it more difficult than younger workers to find a job after a layoff. Seventeen states have active programs that permit the use of unemployment funds to support work sharing. In addition, the governments of a number of developed countries promote work sharing as a way to save jobs in a weak economy.
Get the 2010 Consumer "Bible" Free
To celebrate National Consumer Protection Week (NCPW), March 7-13, our friends at Pueblo, Colorado are giving away the 2010 edition of the Consumer Action Handbook (shipping is free too). This is the bible of every consumer office in the country because it lists contacts for state and federal consumer agencies, corporate consumer affairs departments, and more. Order your 2010 book today.
New changes to your credit card
Pay attention now to your card statement. New regs from the feds mean your issuer must use the same due date each month and over-the-limit charges are no longer allowed.
FIND a carpool buddy
Click ‘Find-a-Ride’ to reply to or to post a listing at”
Find a Green Job
Where & How to Reuse Stuff
Experts claim the average household has $3,200 worth of used stuff which could be sold for a profit. According to some, you can make your ad on Craigslist and eBay standout by placing several asterisks or other symbols before the title of your ad as studies indicate that people scanning a list are drawn to any item that looks different. Worth testing.
eBay joined Team Earth, a coalition of organizations, private sector companies and individuals convened by Conservation International, in launching the "Do More, Do Less" campaign. The ongoing campaign encourages the fair and sustainable use of the earth's resources through individual action.
The campaign's main objective is to illustrate how individual actions, taken en masse, have the potential to make a profound impact. Examples of the way individuals can make a commitment include making pledges to "use less" paper and "use more" CFL bulbs.
Make Your Own Energy
Step-by-step guide reveals how to
make your own energy for 100$ or less.
Resources for Stockpiling and Disaster Preparation
Griping online-what to do first
Fortunately, there is good news as well. Social networking sites and tools amplify your angry voice thousands of times over, and give you a reasonable chance of knocking Goliath on his butt. "Consumers are empowered by social networking in a way we've never seen before," says, Jeremiah Owyang, a Web strategist and a partner in the Altimeter Group.
But be warned. Getting attention is not the same as getting results. "It's easier to call attention to a broad social issue than it is for an individual consumer to resolve a grievance," says Joe Ridout, manager of consumer services for San Francisco Consumer Action.
Assemble Your Emergency Kit
From Mother Earth News magazine, by Barbara Pleasant
Most of us have experienced short-term power outages and have learned we can get through a day without power. Even most of the 50 million people in the northeast United States and southeast Canada who lost power during last summer's historic grid collapse found their lights back on within a day or so.
But prolonged power outages are a real possibility after a serious hurricane or winter storm. After all, it doesn't take much to bring the grid crashing down: In the summer of 1996, a tree fell on a power line in Idaho, setting in motion a blackout that affected 15 Western states.
I'm still trying to forget nine powerless days my family endured a few years ago: the smell of unflushed toilets, the power plays for batteries between father and daughter, the gas-station chicken fingers we had for Christmas dinner. Last fall, I devoted a week to preparing a simple and inexpensive emergency kit that will help my family ride out 14 days without electricity. This kit gives me peace of mind because now I know the next blackout won't be a nightmare.
Saving Safe Water
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends having 2 quarts per person per day for drinking water, and 2 quarts per person per day for washing, flushing toilets (keep reading) and other purposes. And don't forget the water needs of your animals. My 60-pound dog drinks at least half a gallon a day.
Commercially produced bottled water lasts for a year when stored in a cool, dark place. But you don't have to buy bottled water. Instead, store your own in thoroughly cleaned 2-liter plastic bottles. Make sure bacteria or other microorganisms can't contaminate your stored drinking water; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends mixing in four drops of unscented chlorine bleach per quart of water just before capping the containers, although some sources disagree with this advice. If you do use bleach, check the label to make sure that the only active ingredient is sodium hypochlorite.
If a disaster catches you by surprise and you don't have stored water, fill up every available container - including your bathtub - right away. A backup plan is to melt ice from your freezer. After that, drain the water from your water heater (but first turn it off at the circuit box). To eliminate bacteria and other parasites in water of questionable quality, you have three options: Bring it to a full boil for 1 minute, filter it, or treat it with iodine or chlorine - both are available as tablets, or you can use plain chlorine bleach.
Even if the power is off, you can force a toilet to flush by pouring water into the tank. To determine how much water your toilet needs to flush just turn off the water supply, flush it once to empty the tank and then measure how much water you pour into the tank in order to execute one good flush. The best way to force flushes is to pour the amount of water needed into the reservoir tank, hold down the handle and let it rip. Melted ice or snow makes fine flushing water.
But in some situations, such as during a flood, your city's sewer system or your household's septic system may not work. To be prepared, store materials to make a "sawdust potty" in your emergency kit as well. All you need is organic material such as sawdust, peat moss or soil, and a 5-gallon bucket with a lid. After you use the potty, just pour a layer of organic material in the bucket and put the lid on.
Food and Other Supplies
Set aside cabinet space or a storage bin to store canned foods; unopened peanut butter and jelly; dried fruits and vegetables; crackers and hard candy. When stored in airtight containers, these foods will keep for a year. If your backup generator isn't powering the refrigerator, raid it for the food, but don't open the door more than necessary.
When a blackout hits, immediately make necessary phone calls. Tell an out-of-town relative you're OK and prepared for the emergency; ask him or her to pass on the news to other loved ones. Then turn off your cell phone to conserve its battery. Use a car charger (if you can safely get to your car) if your phone battery is low.
If you have an old cell phone that you no longer use, save it for your emergency kit. By law, every cell phone can call 911 (as long as it can get a signal), even if you do not have current service with a wireless company. A small battery-operated or crank radio is another must-have. Weather radios aren't much for entertainment, but they are an excellent source of information. With any type of radio, playing it at low volume is the best way to conserve the battery.
A blackout is one of those times when attitude really is everything. My emergency kit includes a deck of cards, paper and pencils, and a jigsaw puzzle. My teenager's plan includes drawing, lots of reading and making a scrapbook.
Measured in peace of mind, the little time and money I invested in blackout preparedness was well worth it. My stockpiled supplies provide reassuring security, so now I can look forward to the future with confidence rather than fear.
-Mother Earth News contributing editor Barbara Pleasant lives on a dead-end road in the mountains of western North Carolina.
Excerpted from Mother Earth News magazine, the original guide to living wisely. Read the full story at www.motherearthnews.com or call 800-234-3368 to subscribe. Copyright 2005 by Ogden Publications, Inc.
NOTE: See our Poor Man Site for a comprehensive listing of resources & suppliers or go to: http://www.tbotech.com/cmd.asp?af=1126539
- The economy depends about as much on economists as the weather does on weather forecasters. - Jean-Paul Kauffmann
Can You Settle Credit Card Debt for Pennies?
We have all seen and heard the ads that shout, "Secrets banks don't want you to know," "You have a right to settle your debts for pennies on the dollar" and "President Obama has a stimulus plan provision that allows you to eliminate credit card debt" ... if only you will call the 800 number in the ad.
People ask me if there is any truth to the ads with an air of skepticism that always contains a whiff of hope that there just might be some secret way that debts can be erased, eliminated or at least shrunk. I can't blame them. I still buy the occasional ticket when the Power Ball lottery gets big enough, like $15 million is just too small for me to bother with. Well, after 19 years of working with families who have experienced crushing credit card debt, demoralizing reversals of fortune or sometimes just plain unrestrained spending silliness, I can tell you that there is no magic wand, no silver bullet, no credit fairy.
Get Dental Care for Less Money
Jordan Braverman, MPH
Dental care is rarely covered by Medicare... few retirees have dental insurance... and those who do have dental insurance often find that their coverage is very limited.
Dental bills average around $677 per year for the typical senior, and a major procedure, such as a root canal or a dental implant, can push that tab into four or even five figures.
Insurance can help pay dental bills. Options to consider...
Dental insurance. If you have access to subsidized group dental insurance through an employer or former employer, it likely is worth having. If not, the case for dental insurance is less compelling.
Dental insurance typically features copayments as high as 50%... annual benefit caps in the low four figures... often long waiting periods before expensive procedures are covered... and usually only 80% coverage if your dentist is out of network. Dental insurance premiums for seniors are about $480 per year for individual plans. That’s a steep price for such limited coverage, but not necessarily an awful deal if you have reason to believe that you will require significant dental work within a few years, perhaps because your dentist has warned you that a major procedure cannot be put off too much longer.
If you do decide to sign up for dental insurance, consider the policies offered through AARP. Rates on AARP dental policies often are a bit lower than what comparable individual dental coverage would cost elsewhere.
More information: Visit www3.deltadentalins.com/aarp/.
If you do have dental insurance, confirm that your dentist will accept it before agreeing to any procedure. Work with him/her to get the most out of the insurance if he does.
Example: If the dental work you require is not an emergency and significantly exceeds your coverage’s annual benefits cap, ask your dentist if the work -- and the bill -- could be spread out over two or more plan years.
Private health insurance. If you do not have dental insurance but have private health insurance in addition to Medicare, this health insurance could include some basic dental benefits. Read the plan literature or call the insurance company’s customer service department to find out.
Medical flexible spending accounts (FSAs). FSAs can substantially trim the effective cost of dental care by allowing patients to pay for health-care bills -- including dental bills -- with pretax dollars. Unfortunately for retirees, FSAs are available only to employees whose employers offer FSAs as part of their benefits packages.
Dentists’ bills often are negotiable -- but only if you discuss costs before having the dental work done. Ask if you can get a senior discount or a cash discount if you pay in cash. Either of these appeals could net you savings of 5% to 10%.
Call other dentists’ offices to ask their prices for the procedure. If you find a better rate, tell your dentist that you are on a tight budget and ask if he can match the lower price.
Get a second opinion before agreeing to any major procedure. There’s a chance that your dentist could be recommending an expensive procedure that is not necessary. Have your dental files, including the most recent test results and X-rays, forwarded to the dentist who will provide this second opinion so that you do not have to pay to have these repeated. You will have to pay for the second opinion, but the cost of a simple office visit is so much lower than the cost of an elaborate dental procedure that it can be a smart investment if there is any chance that the original dentist was wrong.
If you have a LIMITED INCOME
You probably can get dental care even if your financial resources are very limited...
Medicaid. Medicaid is available only to those with low incomes and limited assets. Eligibility rules and program benefits vary by state. In most states, Medicaid provides at least basic dental care for those living near or below the poverty line.
To find out if you qualify, contact your state’s Medicaid Office. (Visit www.benefits.gov, select Medicaid/Medicare from the Benefits Quick Search menu, then choose your home state. Or call 800-333-4636 for a contact phone number for your state’s Medicaid office.)
Helpful: Nursing homes are legally required to arrange for dental care for residents who use Medicaid to pay for their stays. That typically means that they must either bring a dentist to the nursing home or transport the resident to a dentist’s office to receive care.
Local and state dental associations. Many have programs that provide dental services for free or reduced rates to those in financial need. Services are provided by dentists who volunteer their time. Eligibility requirements vary.
State and local dental associations can be found on the Web site of the American Dental Association (ADA) -- at www.ada.org, select "Dental Organizations" off the menu, then check both the "Constituent (State) Directory" and the "Component (Local) Directory" to find relevant associations. Or call the ADA at 312-440-2500 and ask for your state dental association’s phone number.
Example: The Connecticut Dental Association sponsors an annual "Mission of Mercy" program that provides free cleanings, extractions and fillings on a first-come, first-served basis. Unlike most programs of this sort, Connecticut’s Mission of Mercy does not require proof of limited income. See the Connecticut State Dental Association’s Web site for more information (www.csda.com/ctmom/ctmom4.html).
Public or nonprofit dental clinics. Available in many regions, these typically charge very low rates, perhaps linked to the patients’ ability to pay. In some cases, treatment is free. Your area Agency on Aging should be able to direct you to any dental clinics in your region and might know of other local low-cost dental options for seniors. (Call the US Administration on Aging’s Eldercare Locator, 800-677-1116, or use the Locator on the Web at www.eldercare.gov to find your local Agency on Aging if you cannot locate it in your phone book.) Your local or state dental association also might know of area clinics.
If you are too well off to qualify for low-income dental programs, consider these options...
Local dental colleges. Performed for perhaps half the usual cost, the work is done by dental students under the supervision of qualified instructors. The quality of the dental care tends to be good... however, a dental school might not provide a full range of dental services. The American Dental Education Association Web site can help you find dental schools in your region. (At www.adea.org, click "About ADEA" then "Who We Are," and "Predoctoral Dental Education Programs.") Typing "dental schools" and the name of your state into Google.com also can help you find any schools in your region.
Retail dental centers. Usually located in shopping malls, they typically charge 10% to 20% less than traditional dentists’ offices. Thanks to:
Grow your own food -- in a bag, in a truck, anywhere
Gardening isn't just for people with lots of land. You can raise your own tasty crops in the smallest and oddest of containers. If you have access to some sun, plus time to water and care for seedlings, every little spot in the world is your garden.
About.com has tips for growing a head of lettuce in a Whole Foods reusable grocery bag. Typically, these bags are reused when you buy salad fixings at the store, but why not use them to raise fresh salad at home? Doesn't look that hard.
In fact, an entire Flickr group is devoted to Grow Bag Gardening. People around the country are growing potatoes in potato sacks, fertilizing plants in bags of fertilizer, and even raising crops in tin cans.
The container gardening site at Texas A&M also suggests using a cake pan as the site to grow green onions, radishes, or beets. What a great way to use an old pan that's scratched or warped or to use something found at the thrift store. More at:
8 Sneaky Ways to Raise Taxes
President Obama's budget proposal would raise taxes on upper-income earners by $969 billion over the next 10 years, yet the federal debt would continue to explode. To boost government revenues further, he'd raise an additional $122 billion from multinational firms, $90 billion from banks, $37 billion from oil companies, and $24 billion from hedge funds and private-equity firms. All told, that's nearly $1.2 trillion. And it would barely make a dent. We'd still have huge deficits, and the national debt would keep growing.
At least 35 states face their own budget shortfalls this year, with revenue in many states coming in below projections that were weak to start with, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. When federal stimulus spending winds down in 2011, many states anticipate a "cliff effect," in which their revenues plunge. That means new revenue will have to come from somewhere—and there aren't enough rich people to provide all the funds. "It's inevitable that the government will have to find a way to have a truly middle-income tax increase," says Clint Stretch of consulting firm Deloitte Tax. "The trick is: how?
More at: http://www.usnews.com/money/blogs/flowchart/2010/02/02/8-sneaky-ways-to-raise-taxes
How to Live Happily on 75 Percent Less
Nine months after getting laid off, Catherine Goerz once again became part of the rush-hour commute—in a way she'd never anticipated.
To pick up extra cash, Goerz took a temporary job handing out fliers touting the benefits of public transportation in the San Francisco subway system. Occasionally she'd bump into people she knew from her former job as a creative producer for a Bay Area communications company. "They're in their corporate clothes," she recalls, "and I'm in this silly T-shirt and hat. 'Cathy, is that you?' they'd ask. 'What are you doing here?' Ugh."
The Great Recession—which is technically over, economists insist—may be morphing into a broader epoch: the Great Humbling. Millions of Americans who felt prosperous just a few years ago are now coping with long-term unemployment, sharp cutbacks in living standards, foreclosure, bankruptcy, and a deep sense of failure. That could persist for years. "This is not like earlier recessions, where things fell, then they bounced back to where they used to be," says Dennis Jacobe, chief economist for the Gallup polling organization. "We haven't seen this before. It's the only time this has happened since the Great Depression."
SOCIAL NETWORKING SITES
Some of the best social networking sites for adults...
Eons (www.eons.com) is a social network for older adults interested in leading healthy and fulfilling lives. One of the most popular features of the site is the Longevity Calculator, which asks a series of health-related questions and then estimates your life expectancy. Among the popular social groups at Eons are those that discuss spirituality, pop music and saving money.
AARP Online Community (www.aarp.org/onlinecommunity) is a new feature of the country’s largest organization for seniors and is growing strong. As it grows, the social network will connect more and more adults interested in such subjects as entertainment, education, health, careers, sports and volunteering. You don’t have to be an AARP member to take part in its social networking.
Gather (www.gather.com) is a social network with an especially large number of interest groups, including those for adults interested in horror movies, baking bread or writing poetry. When members use Gather, they build up credits that can be redeemed at retailers such as Amazon.com, the Gap, Starbucks and Target.
Many social networking sites are now aimed at people with specific interests...
Literature. At Goodreads (www.goodreads.com), you can network with people who love to read books and want to exchange information about authors, best sellers and publishing industry events.
Women’s issues. iVillage Connect (http://connect.ivillage.com) is one of the few social networking sites devoted solely to women, covering a wide range of topics from health, careers and relationships to shopping and style.
Careers. Of the many sites for career-minded networkers, LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com) is one of the most popular. Members exchange information about career interests and skill sets, post their résumés and invite people they have met in business to join their online network of business colleagues. Your network expands as you are introduced to other businesspeople -- a bit like exchanging business cards, except it is done online in this network.
Personal finance. ValueForum (www.valueforum.com) is one of a growing number of specialized networking sites that charge for membership. For about $21 a month, members exchange information about their personal experiences with a wide variety of timely investments, including municipal bonds, energy-related stocks, real estate, foreign equities and gold.
Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher once observed, "The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's money."
I’m an optimist at heart, but…
The politicians in Washington tell us the economy is recovering. Well, maybe so ... as long as you don't need a job. The problems facing this country — in debt, energy, lost jobs, unbalanced budgets and more — continue to mount.
I do believe the American Century is over with. Washington policies during the past 30 plus years have shattered the dream which was…more and more foreign countries now exceed the US in terms of policy, innovation, and overall care of its population. Few other countries are doing much better economically (Great Britain can no longer finance its national debt, Greece, and Portugal are in trouble, the Euro seems challenged, etc.).
Greece's financial troubles have shaken the European Union and its shared euro currency, whose rules were supposed to prevent governments from running up too much debt. Rioting is already taking place…can it happen here too?
If our country goes bankrupt (technically, it already is) there are many scenarios, which could take place. Chief among those would be government defaults on military and government pensions, bankrupt state governments, massive layoffs, cut backs in Social Security and Medicaid and more. In short, chaos.
A new America will emerge, but a far different one than what we grew up with. Some areas of the country will do just fine – those, which are more self-sufficient. Urban areas such as Washington DC, might not do well. We may become a nation of city-states. It’s anyone’s guess!
There’s always the slight chance I’m going to hell for sharing all of this anyhow!
Yours for better living,
Bruce “The Poor Man”