Monday, February 9, 2015

Why Does the Country Keep Falling for ‘Wimpy’nomics?

As a kid, I used to watch old Popeye cartoon reruns.  I still remember the character Wimpy and his catchphrase, “I’d gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.”

As a child, this statement was funny and I really didn’t pay much attention to the meaning behind it.  However, as this now seems to be the common catchphrase for a growing segment of the American consumer, I don’t find it funny at all.  In fact, I find it rather scary.  And after the financial crisis and ensuing recession, I wonder why the American public keeps falling for what I like to call, “Wimpynomics” or the constant borrowing of money for things today that might be paid for later. 

Debt, debt, debt
From homes, vehicles, and educations to phones, appliances, computers, televisions, and more, it seems like so many of the major – and even not so major – purchases people make these days are done so with credit.

As CNBC.com notes in a May 2014 article, “Outstanding household debt rose by $129 billion from the previous quarter, boosted by a $116 billion jump in mortgage debt and smaller rises in student and auto loans, the report said. Total household indebtedness was $11.65 trillion, which is still 8.1 percent below the peak in the third quarter of 2008.”

A little delayed gratification might be the answer we’re looking for
Sometimes a little delayed gratification is all it might take to keep debt at bay and even appreciate the things we have, want, and eventually buy, a little bit more.  This could also have kept poor Wimpy’s rotund waistline a bit trimmer.

Remember those days proceeding Christmas or your birthday as a child?  Do you remember how excited you got and the anticipation of what was or might be coming?  Sometimes the days leading up to the actual event were almost more exciting and the day itself somewhat anticlimactic.  Well, the reason you likely remember those days was because of all that anticipation.  And the appreciation of finally getting those toys or trinkets hopefully had you caring for them like they were your own children.

Well, the same can go for us as adults except that we no longer have parents to restrain us from creating our own little Christmas mornings all the time for ourselves with our credit cards.  Exercising a little self-restraint might not only keep us from greater buyer’s remorse but help us appreciate and care for our purchases a little more.

The reward for saving is saving itself
Some people use the excuse that due to low interest rates on savings, there’s really no reward for setting a little cash aside.  But sometimes, the reward for savings is the savings itself.

Even if your savings aren’t growing much, or even at all, they’re there.  They can act as reserve funds, ready for an emergency, to be put to use in a new business venture, be saved for retirement, or should the opportunity present itself, put to work in an investment with greater returns.  So while poor returns on savings can be an excuse, the savings themselves could be the reward for your self-restraint and saving efforts.
 

Disclaimer:

The author is not a licensed financial professional.  This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute advice of any kind.  Any action taken by the reader due to the information provided in this article is solely at the reader’s discretion.

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