@WayDownSouth I'm no economist, but I have always admired Sweden's mix of social welfare and free market economics. I don't know how much you already know about the Swedish model, but based on your posts here I think you could get behind it. Here's a very brief article that outlines how they pulled their economy out of a slump in the past 30 years through common sense reforms: http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2013-08-29/opinions/41578257_1_sweden-global-economy-world-economy
For a few months in grad school, I used to bring a container of pb & a loaf of bread to work every few weeks. Then, every morning, I'd throw an apple or bag of veggies into my purse. Using this method, I managed to eat lunch for less than 50 cents (yes, I calculated it) every day. Not the most exciting lunch, but it filled me up and I saved tons of money doing it.
This reminds me of that recent TED Talk on how the secret to success in life is grit: http://www.ted.com/talks/angela_lee_duckworth_the_key_to_success_grit.html
I love the organic juice restaurant near my work place in DC. I have a 16 oz. juice nearly every day for lunch. Yes, it's rather costly ($35/week or so), but I've actually saved money doing it because my grocery bill has been almost cut in half since I started & I waste less food at home. Also, I have more energy in the afternoons and just generally feel better. I know it's not for everyone and that not everyone can afford it, but I have personally found it worth the money (and, not that this should necessarily be a goal, but I've also lost a healthy amount of weight because of it).
@SterlingCooper05 This is what I am doing too. I have "PAY YOUR LOAN" on my google calendar, so even though I already automatically pay my minimums I also receive a reminder to pay whatever extra I can. Right now I am paying off one higher-interest loan, but once that's gone I'll just throw money at the largest one, and so on and so on. So far this method has allowed me to pay off 1/5 of my debt in 6 months, setting me on track to have it gone within 3 years (barring any sudden unemployment, etc...)
DC has one too, called Street Sense. You can get one for free but they suggest a $2 donation. One of the vendors (who is homeless) told me he makes around $400 a month selling them on the street, which helped him save up to visit his brother in Milwaukee. It's a great program!
I'm not Catholic, or even Christian, but I follow the new Pope's twitter account because I appreciate his wisdom. He had a tweet which I won't ever forget a while back (paraphrased): "The world's worst afflictions today are the high unemployment of the youth and the chronic loneliness of the old." Thank you for seeing Jerry, and alleviating his loneliness, if only for a little.
Logan, this was a great story. Thanks for sharing, and for buying him lunch. I hope he finds a safe place to live soon.
As a federal government contractor, I will not get paid even if Congress passes a bill that gives federal employees backpay. My savings were cut by 1/3 to pay my bills this time around, and to know that this could happen again in just a few months is almost more than my nerves can bear.
@garli Well, if someone retires at 65, it is expected they will live at least another 10-15 years, based on average life expectancy. So, retiring with somewhere between 10-20 years of your average yearly income in order to maintain your current lifestyle, would be about right.