Debt clouds the line that separates wants, desires, and needs. Needs are necessary purchases such as food, clothing, shelter, medical coverage, transportation, and others. Wants involve choices about quality of goods. Discount shopping versus specialty shopping, lobster versus chicken, or a new car versus a good used car, and so on. Desires are those things that can be purchased only after all other obligations are met and only if there are surplus funds available to purchase them. Debt allows desires to become wants and wants to become needs.
Debt encourages impulse buying and overspending. The chief financial officer of a national credit card company said that consumers spend on the average of 25 to 30 percent more when they charge than if they purchase with a check or cash and that a great majority of those extra purchases are the result of impulse buying. Unrestricted debt assumption and credit cards have allowed people to buy immediately beyond the means to repay, without sacrificing needs and necessities.
Debt stifles resourcefulness. In a society that lives by the premise of “I want, what I want, when I want it,” the need to be resourceful—mending clothing, resoling shoes, and changing oil—in order to save money is no longer relevant. It is more convenient to purchase new or to charge services simply by “putting it on plastic,” and then paying for it later, regardless of interest or finance charges.
Debt eliminates family financial planning. Rather than planning for the future and allowing for a margin of errors, overruns, and changes to dictate future financial development, debt eliminates the necessity for future planning because the course for the financial future of the family will have already been set: pay the debt that has been accumulated.
Debt teaches children that the world’s method of managing money is normal. Debt causes children to have a casual regard for using credit cards, obtaining loans and mortgages, and keeping vows to pay the bills. For this reason, we have children who have graduated from college by borrowing for education expenses and living to the limit of their credit cards. They have never considered paying cash for transportation or anything else and have begun adult life with so much debt that they have to work for years just to pay for the debt accumulated during their college years.