Friday, April 18, 2008

Personal Responsibility in Finances

Listening to Dave Ramsey and watching Maxed Out have reiterated in my mind the need for personal responsibility in finances. When I was at the highest point of debt I had, it was due to my own miscalculations, stupid decisions, and lifestyle. I didn't blame the credit card companies, the car dealerships, the price of higher education in this country, or the housing market for the debt I had, but rather I accepted that it was my personal decisions that led to credit card debt, car loans, student loans, and a mortgage at an age that was entirely too young, 22 years old. I liked high tech toys and spent too much on them. I liked cars, and had two of them. I spent my earnings while in college on eating out and having fun rather than on the necessities that my student loans paid for. All of these were dumb decisions.

What's amazing is the numbers of people who do blame these other factors and are not willing to own up to their decisions. Even Maxed Out, which was an eye opening movie talking about the state of debt in the country, puts the blame squarely on the shoulders of the credit card companies for offering too much credit or to people who are too young, for credit collectors for harassing people, and to the federal government for not regulating the big businesses offering loans and credit to the people. Granted, many collectors may be the scum of the earth and I think Maxed Out proved that nicely, but if a person were not in debt in the first place, they wouldn't be coming after them.

I realize that others get in debt out of necessity. They may have lost their job or got very sick. But again, the debt wasn't the fault of the credit card companies. It probably wasn't the fault of the federal government, although I am sure there were cases where it was, but the government regulating banks lending closer would not have helped those situations often.

I think in the end a lot of consumer debt is because people are living a lifestyle they can't afford. Not all, but a lot. I just wished people took more personal responsibility in those cases.

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