Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Interlude: That Dirty American Secret

Do you want to know what appalls me the most about my debt?

No. It's not the dollar amount itself.

It's the shame I carry about all of it.

Even when I was fresh out of college and over $5,000 in debt, I didn't ever share the total debt I'd incurred with anyone save my Consumer Credit Counselor. Not even with my dad who had to have known it was extraordinary - and it was...then.

Until now, even Lex, my partner in nearly every way, didn't even know either my past high debt or my current high debt. Not even during those initial house-buying conversations did I reveal it to him I was so terribly ashamed by it.


Why are debt and spending habits such shameful things to discuss? Why is it the #1 most taboo topic among couples?

I've been pondering this over the last few days because I've realized how deeply distressed I was to talk to Lex about my financial situation. I didn't want to admit that I, as successful as I'd become, at any given moment, could be in financial turmoil.

In my humble opinion, I think I may know the answer.

America is a paradoxical society.

On the one hand, we have financial gurus telling us, "Debt is bad! No more debt! Get out of it as quickly as you can. Just say no to credit!"

On the other, we are subjected to offers of 0% financing, credit cards, buy now and pay laters. And then, even if we're able to "resist" the special offers or are ineligible for them, we are bombarded by commercials and advertising suggesting, no DEMANDING, we spend spend SPEND! Appealing to every instant gratification bones in our bodies.

Even our own government, by way of the stimulus money nearly all of us received (twice), expected us to buy until we couldn't buy anymore...with cash or stimulate the economy, save our country, get this country moving again.

After we'd already over-consumed to the point where our economy - and the world economy - collapsed from over-spending.


Please do not misunderstand. I blame no one for my financial situation except myself. I've done this to me. I've been doing this to me for years and long before the financial meltdown of 2007! However, given the culture in which I was raised, I have to wonder if the debt and subsequent shame hasn't been societally created?


Don't you think it's terribly silly to whisper bad, dog, bad! And then encourage said dog to engage in the very same behavior for which you've chastised it?

No wonder we're all ashamed of ourselves. No wonder we're all feeling so terribly guilty. No wonder we're embarrassed to confide in our most beloved partners what we've done.

Even when it's not a crime.

We're led to believe it is a crime. And maybe, just maybe, it actually is.


  1. "Hey, kids: the tastiest, cheapest food is at Taco Bell, but you'd better look like a supermodel when you're done!" Paradoxical America, indeed! *laugh*

  2. Diva: I feel so confused! *laughing*