- The Fed interest rate is still at 0%.
- Somalian pirates still make cameo appearances.
- The DJIA (~ 10,200), NASDAQ (2,200) and S&P 500 (1,092) have improved some, though are still prone to wild swings.
- Gas at $2.50
- The Madoff scandal has been replaced by Tiger Woods. Madoff has been consigned to a US federal prison where some reports seem to indicate that other inmates are awed by him.
- Obama's first year has passed and even to his most ardent supporter it has been a mixed bag.
- Teddy Kennedy died and the Republican challenger who won the election to fill his seat has upset the Democratic 60% filibuster proof majority.
- Sadly though:
Money, job and home value worries. No change.
Uncertainty about the economy - will it get worse or will it get better? No change.
Ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. No change.
- Health care reform still in limbo though insurers are breathing freer because there is almost no likelihood that the public option is still in play.
- Toyota is making the news for all the wrong reasons. Unintended acceleration has caused several deaths and they don't seem to have a definitive fix.
- Earthquake in Haiti has destroyed a third of that country and killed untold thousands of people.
One wonders when we will get past the excesses of the past years, wrap up the wars we are fighting and devote more energy to whom we admit into this country.
One hopes that the two parties both Republican and Democrat move past divisive politics and politicians. One hopes that in the coming year they don't just act like sheep but show some spine and have opinions that may differ from their party's leadership.
One wishes Mr. Obama well but hopes that he focuses on things that are closer to Americans' hearts like jobs and health care and not continue doling out largesse on projects while important have receded from our collective consiousness due to more pressing worries.
I wonder if 2010 will be like 2009 - a drudgery of a year. One hopes not, but signs portent that it is going to be more of the same.
- Live within your means.
- Pay off all your debts including mortgage.
- Save a year's worth of living expenses. This should include estimated Cobra payments, home, car, flood, umbrella insurance, car and mortgage payments, school/activity fees for children, any estimated co-payments, food and clothing allowances and up to $10K as an emergency reserve on top of the other estimates. This is a tough goal and may not be achieved in one year but we need to get realistic on what a year's living expense really means.
- Hold on to your job in any way possible.
- Don't cave in to impulses small ( a new cellphone) or large ( a car or a pool).
- Stop looking at ads. You are not helping the economy by spending, you are only hurting yourself. The economy will find ways to adapt.
Happy belated new year!