Debt Is Bad, Mkay?

With the current financial crisis in full swing, the evening news is littered with bank failings, job losses, and business closures. Sad news, undoubtedly, as these failings only add to the turmoil. Story after story, usually followed up by more tales of foreclosure. As we watch the fallout from years of bad decisions, we see a common theme arise:

Too much reliance on debt.

Lenders have worked tirelessly to desensitize us to the use of debt to the point where we use it daily. Personal finance gurus and documentary filmmakers have struggled to keep up and bring us back to reality. The undeniable reality is:

Debt is bad.

Some of you are in the choir on this one, but if you are still struggling with this issue then here are a few points to consider:

  1. Car sales are way off across the board - no free pass for golden children Honda and Toyota. But when have you ever known anyone to pay cash for a brand new car? Every once in a while, some hermit will ceremoniously pay for one in nickels. That's about it. The entire industry is so heavily reliant on debt to sell their product that they have their own financing divisions. When credit is less available, less people can buy.
  2. Businesses, usually smaller ones, are closing up shop in droves. Why? Many rely on financing their operating costs, and when short term credit becomes less available, they can't buy materials or pay workers. The business literally exists on debt.
  3. Families are falling behind on mortgages. Blame who you want here, but those who took out short term financing, expecting to re-fi later, took on a huge risk and banked it all on some really bad debt.
  4. People with even just a few debts are struggling where they weren't before. Increasing living costs or job losses bring the house of cards tumbling down. Even having credit limits slashed or interest rates jacked brings their best-case-scenario 'plan' to a grinding halt.

Individuals and families are so reliant on debt (and if you use a credit card, you are using debt), that they face the same fate of businesses during tough economic times - financial failure. I'm not saying that it is unavoidable. But it is an undeniable risk that has always been there and this financial crisis has brought to light for many. the families and businesses that are succeeding right now, are the ones without debt.

This is quite possibly the best part of Dave Ramsey's financial advice - It doesn't change.

It works in every economy. And the best part about that, is that you don't know when this is going to happen. Sure people predicted this fall out. But no-one could look into their crystal ball and say that it would be this bad at this time. No body knows. Truly sound financial advice is unfazed by economic swings.


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