The essence of the American Dream is that if a person works hard they will be able to better themselves and achieve their dreams, goals, and ambitions. It is the foundation of our country's success and why immigrants continue to pour into the country. It truly is a great place to be!
Recently though there has been a blurring of the lines between the dream and the reality and what has passed as the fulfillment of the American Dream has actually been just an image.
Free flowing credit has created an image of success and now all that is left for many people is the bills. Homes have been foreclosed, cars repossessed, and credit reports ruined. It is my opinion that this was a systematic attempt by the banks to promote big spending by us to to make big short term profits for them. The financial institutions have enticed us into thinking that spending more than we make is the quickest and best way to fulfill our dreams. Yes, there is much fault on the economy, the banks, and other forces that have brought many families to a downturn but much of where we are at now may be a direct result of our own choices. I know that either one of these positions - corporate greed and manipulation, or personal responsibility can both be touchy subjects but unless it is said we will not have the will or the courage we need to deal with the tasks that need to be accomplished.
Just like any nightmare it's time to wake up, look around and realize it in many ways was just a bad dream. And, in order to move forward from here it's time to go In The Trenches. It's time to look at our present and make the changes we need to move toward a better future. A stronger future. And, a real future based on hard work, wise money management, and planning for the future of ourselves and our children.
Where to start? In The Trenches has charts to help you set up your own personal budget. And here we will talk about one of the first steps to determine whether you have been living the dream or the image. Create a balance sheet. Don't groan. We work too hard to not take a look. If you have never done one there is a sample in the book or you can go to your bank and they can assist you.
The balance sheet is a tremendously helpful tool. It compares your assets to your debts and the difference is you net worth. This is the value of what you have accumulated for all your hard work. If this is your first time to make one it can be a starting point. Save it on the computer or print it and keep it in a three ring binder. At the end of the year do another one and compare. Are you moving forward or losing ground? Are you creating wealth or creating debt? These questions cannot be answered by looking at your new t.v. or new car, or even your paycheck. All these things can mislead you into thinking that your situation is improving. Most of us are In The Trenches.
Are you living the American Dream or just an image?