Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Money Makes the World Go 'Round

The only time I allow myself to watch "Oprah" is whilst I run on the elliptical machine. Yesterday, her show was all about people with money issues that were affecting their family and relationships.

Dude, I was terrified. Almost fell off the machine. I am fervently anti-debt. Even before I started working for a credit card company, I always treated my plastic as if I were paying cash. The concept of paying interest on purchases seemed like flushing money down the toilet. If I don't have the money to pay for it immediately, I don't buy it until I do. Of course there are some times in which debt is unavoidable, for example buying a house.

So two of the couples on the show had debt in excess of $150,000, not including mortgages. Can't imagine racking up thousands of dollars in personal debt. Guh.

The third couple admitted they had not raised their two teenagers with any sense of money smarts. While the parents lived thriftily, the kids racked up credit card bills in excess of $600 a month (which mom and dad paid off) and neither had any type of job or chores around the house. On the show, the mom immediately turned into Super Enabler, making excuses for her kids and the way she spoiled them. Her justification for buying her daughter a $25,000 convertible Beetle was that they wanted the safest cars for their kids with airbags and stuff. A convertible?? Safe for a teenager?? It was horrible. I could see the kids totally being on the road to massive debt. Or living off of mom and dad for the rest of their lives (or at least until they found spouses to support them).

After the show was over, I called my dad to thank him for teaching me to be smart with money and for not indulging my every whim materially. I didn't get a that suede jacket in the 7th grade, but maybe I'm a better person for it. Shoot, I didn't have my own car until I was 20. Dad said that for some people money smarts comes naturally, but I think everyone can learn if they are given the proper tools and guidance.

I just know that saving money for Lumpy's college education is going to be a main priority for me. Both of the indebted couples on the show started down the road to overwhelming debt with student loans. My goal is to do as my parents did for me and be able to give my child a good education without the chains of debt to weigh them down in their first forays into the adult world.

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