Well here we are at the end of the 1st quarter of 2012 and busy does not fully describe my life this year. 2012 has been a big year of change for me so far, as with most those I speak with or receive feedback from on my consumer reports.

What seems to be the most interesting element of 2012 is a push from the White House down through the halls of congress as to “things are getting better – recovery is around the corner” vs from the small business owners and our consumer work force all saying… SHOW ME THE MONEY!

It has been a long standing procedure from within Capital Hill to gloss over the ills of this nation in order for our congressional leaders to either: stay in office for yet another term or to pass the buck along to the newly elected if it is time for retirement. Today I am seeing a new Washington… a new approach to government to consumer communication. Either we are flat out being lied to or we are being warned by a select few in government that time is not marching on in the case of our economy getting better. The time came and passed for us to fix things, we are simply staring a very different country in the face, as it comes to our ability to weather the storm.

I am not an economist by any stretch of the imagination. I am simply a man whose life has been dedicated to protecting consumers from fraud; whether from major corporations, government offices or even the new vehicle of choice, online predators. What I can tell you is this. I hear from thousands of consumers and hundreds of small business owners on a regular basis and NO ONE is happy as to where their financial resources stand today.

Small business owners are facing bankruptcy or closing their doors and the majority consumers are worried about how to put food on the table and gas in their cars. Have you heard the talk about: the economy improving, inflation is not a problem, home sales are up, and unemployment is down? Let’s try a little reality check here.

During the past 2 years:

The cost of food is up!

Gasoline is higher.

And, never since the Great Depression has the percentage of under employed ever been this high.

I get reports daily from various financial gurus around the world claiming gas prices will reach $8.00 a gallon in the next 2 years. If you are watching the TV commercials for the DEALS being offers by Auto Dealerships and Manufacturers for big trucks and high end vehicles that get low gas mileage…well it is easy to see they are discounting the heck out of the vehicles in order to get them out of their inventory before gas prices reach $5.00 or $6.00 per gallon. Imagine trying to get back and forth from work, from your kid’s school, or traveling across town to see friends or family members when it costs you $30.00 for daily fuel costs. Once again, what I am hearing is people are having problems putting food on the table and keeping the electric on. So if that the case, then what we are looking at is a major shift in our LIFESTYLE index over the next 2 to 5 years.

Many of my friends on Facebook and those I have personal interaction with each month, have heard me say very clearly over the past 2 years…. “A major shift in our lifestyle and awareness is coming soon. We no longer can afford to look at the past and think of it as the status quo. Thinking “outside the box” is even history for many of us. We have to throw the BOX AWAY and start from scratch. We have to use our God given talents to make our way through this economic crisis and start planning for a very lean future during this next decade. As Americans we have ALWAYS found a way to beat the odds and to recover from virtually any disaster. The only problem with today’s disaster is we are being fed lies and drinking the kool aid of those with much to loose if we truly wake up to where we are at in the scope of our national economy and the world’s view of our position has a global leader. The US dollar is no longer being accepted in some countries. China and others are call for a new world currency since the US dollar has lost its position in the world. And I know you have all heard this before…. America has gone from the world’s most powerful nation to one of the biggest debtor nations.

OBVIOUSLY I am not sharing any earth shattering news here today. You have heard these claims of economic woes from a variety of sources. As well as Washington’s position on how we are coming into a recovery, inflation is in check and unemployment is down. The difference for me is this. With over 1 million consumers in my membership base, I am getting a very clear cry for help and overwhelming feeling of a major downturn in the financial well being of Joe Q consumer.

As mentioned before, I believe we do have a way out of this mess. It may be difficult, however it can and will make a positive difference in your life. Sit down with your family and discuss all of the resources you have individually and collectively. These resources not only being housing, transportation and cash assets, but also your personal skills and labor. Anything you are spending money on today that you can avoid as a family group… do so. Any labor you are spending money on today that a family member can assist with… use family first. Then open this thought process up to neighbors, friends and others you can reach out to via your community groups, social networks and church groups. If you have never looked into the process of BARTER and TRADE… it may be time for you to consider them.

If you are a Dentist, Plumber or Handyman by occupation … wouldn’t it be great to take your next vacation, or get your house painted, or yard work done without spending any of that money you have in the bank!?! A dentist can certainly start by taking care of his/her family members and friends for all their dental needs and simply have those receiving his/her valuable resources, offer up house cleaning, yard work, marketing, or plumbing work as a “swap”.

Currently there are limitations to be aware of with respect to IRS rulings on barter and exchange of services, dollar for dollar. IRS may consider your barter a taxable event. So speak with your CPA or tax expert on the exact process you should follow to ensure the least amount of tax expense, or a tax free exchange such as “swapping” vs barter.

Over the course of the next few months I will be following up with both legislative content as well as suggestions as to ways to cut your monthly out going dollars, while increasing your incoming revenue and improving your lifesyle in the mix. Please drop me a note with any suggestions and stories on how you have been able to counter the current economy in your household.

Best wishes for your success and happiness. God’s blessings be with you. Wayne