Can’t We All Just Get Along?

With all of the current bickering in Washington (and in statehouses and boardrooms all across the Nation) I know many are tempted to utter the refrain that I regularly heard from parents, teachers and troop masters throughout my childhood – “can’t we all just get along?” The cruel reality is that folks can’t join forces and walk in formation without agreement, and reaching an agreement requires an indispensable component – a common set of principles and rules.

As I am apt to do – I bring this back to financial literacy. Families, like scout troops, businesses, states and nations need a set of rules and principles to guide their conduct. Since so much of what we do and don’t do, arises out of our financial resources, then an agreed – upon family budget with principles and rules on how we apply the budget, and live by the budget are essential to getting along. Is it hard to make a budget – yes it is – and if you doubt that statement, just ask the US Congress!

Frankly, it is easier in most households because today (unlike in 2007 and before) most folks are reconciled to the fact that they cannot spend more than they make. So, half of the budget debate is pretty well set. That leaves plenty to fight about and those fights in households, just like in nations or businesses go to the fundamental questions of values. If that family likes camping, hunting and fishing – then money is spent on camping gear and gasoline for weekend family trips to the wilderness. If that family likes watching TV and playing video games, then money is spent on movie and game rentals and popcorn! Baptists may tithe to their church and Mormons may spend nothing at the liquor store! Many aspects influence how and why we spend what we spend.

Is there an easy solution? Absolutely not; but there is a solution. Accept the fact that there is only so much money, that elections have to be made, and once made, have to be stuck to for the long haul. The net result is a common understanding, and a common objective – and then we can all just get along!

Chris Honenberger is the former President and CEO of Clearpoint. He has significant experience in law, banking and finance, and executive leadership, and during his time at Clearpoint he guided the agency toward its mission of “consumer health through financial education.”

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