A Non-justification for My Credit Card Debt

Let’s call it what it is – it’s not the credit card “bill” if it rolls into the next month and I have to pay a day’s worth of computer-labor to pay for the month’s interest. It’s my DEBT, and currently my pet project is paying that bad boy off with the help of my tax returns. It’s hard though, as I am not very good at living inside of a budget. And neither is Bella I might add.

Interestingly, it sounds like I am part of the frighteningly large consuming majority. In the Feb 25 New Yorker (boy, I get a lot of mileage out of these weekly mags), Elizabeth Kolbert begins a book review thusly,

“A few weeks ago, the Bureau of Economics Analysis released its figures for 2007. They showed that Americans had collectively amassed ten trillion one hundred and eighty-four billion dollars in disposable income and spent nearly all of it – ten trillion one hundred and thirty-two billion dollars.

…According to standard economics theory, the U.S. savings rate also represents rational choice: Americans, having reviewed their options, have collectively resolved to spend virtually all the money they have. According to behavioral economists, the low savings rate has a more immediate explanation: it proves yet again [the previous book review was also about how Americans make irrational decisions] – that people have trouble acting in their best interests. It’s worth noting that Americans, even as they continue to spend

The book is called Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness, and it’s all about how we Americans make poor decisions about important things simply because we can’t bear to reduce our take-home pay or stand the effort of actually filling out the proper form. The “nudges” are ideas that operate around our ultimately self-destructive tendencies; a “nudge” idea might be automatically increasing retirement investments to match a salary raise so that your salary never shrinks; another might to make organ donation consent the default option, leaving the onus of opting out to those who do not want to be organ donors.

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