03 March 2008

Going Broke: Why Americans Can't Hold On to Their Money

Inside the Mind Of a Debtor Nation

By Michelle Singletary
Sunday, March 2, 2008

As the director of a financial ministry at my church, I get an up-close and personal look at the spending habits of a lot of people.

And year after year, I am stunned by the decisions people make that get them into financial trouble. I've seen monthly car notes the size of mortgage payments. People take vacations or buy big-screen televisions and expensive jewelry while ignoring huge federal tax obligations.

While it would be easy to judge these people for the messes they've gotten themselves into, I wonder -- even worry -- why they spend so much. Why do they continue to use credit even though they are already weighed down by so much debt?

The problem is just as acute with many who use cash. They may not have credit card debt, but they struggle, too.

I keep coming back to one question: What has made us into a nation of people who spend more than we earn?

It's a question that led Stuart Vyse to write "Going Broke: Why Americans Can't Hold On to Their Money" (Oxford University Press).

[ - PH]



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