November 29th, 2006

Spending More Than We Make


Debt is one of the worst things to plague our society. The consumerist mentality which prevails among first worlders drives people to want “more, more, more”! Especially notable during the Christmahanukwanzadan season, instant gratification seems to be the name of the game.

And now, we’ve reached an all-time low. As the San Francisco Chronicle reports, Americans are apparently, for the first time ever, spending more money than they make.

First off, the Center for American Progress, a liberal-minded think tank, has crunched data from the Federal Reserve and found that Americans for the first time owe more money than they make.

According to the center, average household debt levels topped average after-tax income by more than 29 percent as of this summer. Moreover, the average family is now spending 14.4 percent of its disposable income on debt repayments — the largest share since the Fed began collecting such data in 1980.

According to the Fed, total consumer credit debt, excluding mortgages, hit a record $2.4 trillion in September. Factoring in mortgages, outstanding household debt soars to about $12.3 trillion.

Yikes. Wise are the following words of President J. Reuben Clark, Jr.:

It is a rule of our financial and economic life in all the world that interest is to be paid on borrowed money. May I say something about interest? Interest never sleeps nor sickens nor dies; it never goes to the hospital; it works on Sundays and holidays; it never takes a vacation; it never visits or travels; it takes no pleasure; it is never laid off work nor discharged from employment; it never works on reduced hours; . . . Once in debt, interest is your companion every minute of the day and night; you cannot shun it or slip away from it; you cannot dismiss it; it yields neither to entreaties, demands, or orders, and whenever you get in its way or cross its course or fail to meet its demands, it crushes you.

President Hinckley, commenting on the benefits of being out of debt, has commented:

What a wonderful feeling it is to be free of debt to have a little money against a day of emergency put away where it can be retrieved when necessary.

I hope that you, like myself, are anxiously working to get out of debt. Prophets have continuously counseled us to do so, and common sense dictates that it’s unwise and dangerous to be in such economic bondage to several organizations and companies. During this holiday season, I hope that instead of going into debt to buy the latest and greatest toys, we can focus more on service, love, and the Reason for the season, Jesus Christ.

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