The New York Times has a painfully insightful piece about hundreds of thousands of people who have gotten into debt beyond their means. Spurred on in part by lenders telling them to “Live richly” and to “tap into the money” for the last ten years, people are now in over their heads, losing their homes and stressed beyond their capacity.
Who’s to blame?
Yes, we can blame the borrowers. They probably shouldn’t have done it. They sign and commit to monthly payments that last for 20+ years – much longer than it takes to spend that extra $25,000 you got out of your house. And like most humans, we are optimists. We assume property values will only go up, and we make no contingency plans for a failed marriage, a layoff, a health setback or a decline in our property value.
And of course lenders, also humans, play to our basic wish to have more and do more, like, well, those other people on TV or the woman who lives on the other side of town.
What is the urge to have more, be more and do more – and faster – costing us?
Are we all just grasping too much with the hope that ‘everything will work out’?
Should we slow down, commit to fewer things, and focus on the one or two things that really matter the most to us? So we get some enjoyment (and appreciation of ourselves) from those while we’re still above ground?
What would you really throw yourself into? What would you suddenly do much less of? What would you stop spending money on?