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Uncle Sam Strikes Again!

 

Last updated 4/13/2021 at 6:09pm

Ella Robertson Masters of Tribal Administration & Governance Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate Tribal Member/Entrepreneur

Uncle Sam Strikes Again!

It's that time of year again SWO. It's the time of year when everyone and their Uncle is cashy with "Income Taxes". We will be seeing Northland, Watertown Ford Chrysler and other dealer plates on new and "new-to-me" vehicles across the reservation. Some kids will have bright white new shoes, pants that are all shredded up that cost $70 and shiny new IPhones. As a kid growing up on the rez I remember that very same excitement. Our parents would splurge on us and they had the extra money to do it. We all felt special in our new Payless shoes and Kmart clothes.

This windfall of cash can be short lived. It all depends on you. Most of us weren't raised in homes that saved money. We spend it just as quickly as it hits the bank account. Here's a little bit of advice, and it's free, that will help you to start thinking further ahead than just next week.

Step 1 – Sit down and make 2 lists, 1 list with your monthly expenses like utilities/phone/water/food, and another list with your debts that you owe that you pay every month such as student loans/car loans/revolving loan/payday loan. How much do you pay monthly for utilities? How much do you owe for each of your loans, what are you balances?

Step 2 – What repairs have you been putting off on your vehicle that need to be fixed? Do you need new tires? Has the change oil light or check engine light been on? Do some online browsing and see how much those tires would cost. Call the local shops and get some estimates on the repairs so that you have a dollar amount on paper.

Step 3 – What home repairs do you need? Do you have an estimate on the cost? Make a list of the larger more expensive repairs or fixes on the bottom and smaller cheaper fixes on the top. If you don't own your home what about a new coat of paint, bedding or kitchen ware that needs replacing?

Why do I need to do steps 1-3? Our home should be a top priority. It holds our family, it keeps us warm and sheltered. This is where you and your family rest before heading off to work and school. Take care of those utilities so that your home can continue to provide the comfort you need when your refund is spent. If you are able to pay a little bit more on your utilities DO IT! Take pride in your home. It is a reflection of yourself. When you home is clean and put together it brings comfort and safety. You want to be home when you are proud of how it looks and smells.

Notice that I did not list start shopping for new car as the top 3 on the priority list. I know, that is our first instinct. Yes, a reliable, good running car is necessary to hold down a job. As such it is one of our top priorities as well, because without a car you can not earn money sitting at home when your "ride" falls through. Am I right?! A vehicle of your own is a sign of independence it shows your financial responsibility and your ability to make mature decisions on your own. It's like a right of passage. Well, the next step up is to keep that car running. Making sure that it is serviced regularly and continues to run. Honestly, I drove my first car a whole year before my uncle told me I needed to change my oil! Embarrassing to think of now but it happens.

So now that you have your lists together and set some priorities lets add two more to this list - #1 – Emergency Fund ($500) and #2 – Savings. How often did you run into emergencies last year that required you to make a loan or even head to the Pawn Shop for a high interest payday loan? If put away $500 it would cover most emergencies or at least a major portion of them. Believe me, you will rest easier knowing you have it. Secondly, we all know that when we have a savings account at the Credit Union somehow it just becomes a drop in center for our extra monthly spending. This is where self control is needed. If you don't have a savings account, start one, if you do, add to it. This is where the money for your giveaway or memorial or big event coming up will be placed. Practice savings and share what you are doing with your kids so that they will learn at a young age the importance of looking ahead.

Somewhere it was put into our heads that we "live for today" and that its okay to use up all our resources. If our ancestors lived that way we would be extinct! We planned out our year, our travel routes for hunting and gathering. We had food caches buried underground, saving food, for when it was not available in the winter months. We need to start living in that way again, to exercise our independence and sovereignty by being a little more frugal and conservative. I hope that this article was helpful. I will be sharing more tips in upcoming issues. Thank you for reading!

 
 

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