Today’s New York Times article titled “Given a Shovel, Americans Dig Deeper Into Debt” inspired this post. Click the title above to read the article. Or you can start with these lines from the article as food for thought:
“For decades, America’s shift from thrift could be summed up in this familiar phrase: When the going gets tough, the tough go shopping. Whether for a car, home, vacation or college degree, the nation’s lenders stood ready to assist.”
“As the profits in this indebtedness grew, financial companies [credit card companies, mortgage lenders] moved aggressively to protect them, spending millions of dollars to lobby against any moves lawmakers might take to rein in questionable lending.”
“Eliminating negative feelings about indebtedness was the idea behind Mastercard’s ‘Priceless’ campaign, the work of McCann-Erickson Worldwide Advertising, which came out in 1997.”
All these excerpts made me think, but the last quote truly gave me pause. The “Priceless” campaign has been an incredibly successful campaign (Who hasn’t made up his own version of the commercials?), but its underlying message is certainly damaging: that we should feel good about indebtedness. Debt is good? We need to educate ourselves and our kids so that we (and most importantly, them) are not slaves to credit. See my previous post about “The Money Mammals Challenge” or “Goals,” and start teaching your kids (and maybe even yourself) today. Financial literacy education and being debt-free are priceless.