As a nation, we’ve seriously enhanced our efforts in the “reduce, reuse, recycle” department over the past 20 years, but we still have a ways to go in some aspects.
Time and money are wasted most when people work at cross purposes and have competing intentions. This is evident in spending at all levels, from the budgets of individual people all the way up to the billions spent by the federal government.
Even attempts to save can ultimately lead to waste. When a department hasn’t spent its allotted budget, it might stock up on things like ancillary office supplies or furniture because if the full budget isn’t spent, the unused amount may be cut the following year.
This is similar to what we sometimes do in our own homes. We might track expenses and successfully reduce our utility or grocery bills, then reward ourselves with a more expensive vacation or splurge on holiday gifts. Perhaps that’s OK if we are saving for that specific purpose, but if the goal of reducing expenses is to save more for college or retirement, then we’re working at cross purposes.
Some waste tactics are specifically deployed for longer-term objectives, but others times we act without forethought or a plan. That’s why professional financial guidance is so important — to keep us mindful of our spending and savings habits and focus on financial goals.
Excessive spending in the U.S. isn’t just limited to consumers. In his most recent “Waste Report,” Representative Steve Russell (R-Okla.) identified 10 wasteful government projects that cost taxpayers approximately $4.2 billion, ranging from “a wacky theater troupe in San Francisco to military helicopters purchased from Russia.”
Nowhere are competing interests more evident than in Congress. In the summer of 2015 alone, 77 bills were passed in the House and 36 were passed in the Senate, but only 27 of those were signed into law.
When Republicans sponsor a bill, Democrats will often sponsor similar legislation with just a few alterations, and vice versa. This political jostling may benefit one party or the other in the end, but taxpayers are left to pay the excess money it takes to drive two or more similar bills through the legislative system.
There’s only so much we can do about how the federal government allocates its time and money, but getting the most out of your personal finances is in your control. Call us if you ever have questions about managing your money.
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