August 31st, 2009
06:10 AM GMT
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When most people think of their own budgets, they think of money on a relatively simple scale; food, housing, transportation, household goods and so forth.

I’ve moved several times over the past several years. With each move I track my spending to gauge my new cost of living. It’s nothing complex. I simply jot down how much I spend each day on things like lunch, groceries and transportation. After a few weeks, it’s easy to see where I stand.

That’s because the numbers are simple.

But then you hear the staggering figures batted around over the past year. Whether it’s millions of dollars for Wall Street bonuses, or billions of dollars in bankruptcy filings, it all starts to turn into a blur of huge sums.

Then, as if those figures aren’t confusing enough, the White House comes along and projects a $9 trillion budget deficit over the next 10 years.

How does a person even get their mind around such a massive sum of money?

Nine trillion is nine million million dollars.

Sorry, did that just make things more confusing? Maybe these three points might help put it all in perspective:

-         If you spent ten million dollars a day, every single day going back to the year Christ was born, you would have only spent about $7.3 trillion by now.

-         As Temple University Professor John Allen Paulos pointed out to CNN a few months back, “A million seconds is about 11½ days. A billion seconds is about 32 years, and a trillion seconds is 32,000 years."

-         Or as Colleen McEdwards found in this week’s Biz Clinic, if you stacked one dollar bills one on top of the other, the pile could go to the Moon and back … then halfway back to the Moon.

And if each of the roughly 300 million Americans chipped in to payoff a $9 trillion deficit, we’d each have to shell out $30,000.

I don’t know about you, but that’s just not in my budget.

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Filed under: Biz Clinic


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