Monday, January 29, 2007

Today's Ramble - 1/29/07

One of the things by which I am the most fascinated is how people spend their money. I prefer the term "invest" over "spend". But, regardless, how people invest their money tells a lot about them, and a lot about society in general. I read this weekend in the Oregonian about a couple who had written in to a columnist looking for advice on the best way to reduce their credit card debt. These folks had a combined household income of between $190,000 and $250,000 (depending on the year) and $68,000 in credit card debt. They wrote that they were not able to contribute to a retirement account or save money for college because of the credit card debt cost. The only thing more mind-boggling than this question coming from people with this kind of income is the non-chalance with which the columnist answered the question. It is as if this is an ordinary situation. If it is, can someone please direct me back to Kansas? What in the world do these people invest all of this money in?

My guess is that they are focused on pleasure and status (oh, and a lot of shopping). Yet, the question was not "how can we get better control of our spending?" It was, "should I sell my company stock to pay off our credit card debt?". Obviously, I am only guessing about the financial choices that these folks have made. It could be that they have had exhorbitant medical expenses to cover. The point is, this apparently absurd situation is treated as nothing unusual. I don't know about you, but that tells me that our society's ability to save and control spending is past. We are in for some tough times ahead my friends.

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