Living Beneath Your Means

Apparently, the more you make, the more in debt you are.

Statistics show that the highest 20 percent of Americans — those with a pre-tax income of $110,000 and up — have seen their liabilities skyrocket since 2001.

The net change in that group’s total liabilities increased by about $40,000 on average from 2001 to 2003, the last year data was available.

Wow. If you make above $110,000, your debt increased $40,000 over… whatever it was before.

There are a lot of reasons for debt to increase, and many of them are out of our control. Loss of a job, borrowing to expand a business, unreimbursed medical expenses, lawsuits, casualty losses… but that’s not why affluent people are in debt.

Alison and Joe Guage, of Rochester, N.Y., may not like living with debt, but they don’t see much of a choice — even with his six-figure income from Eastman-Kodak.

“I think to live this kind of lifestyle that we’d like to live, we have to go into debt to a certain degree,” Alison Guage said.

Ah, the “this kind of lifestyle” justification. If you’re living beyond your means, who benefits the most? (Not exactly a trick question; it’s banks and credit card companies.) And who is deprived? Well… you, if you’re paying hundreds of dollars to the banks, but also your church, neighbors, friends. Everything we “own” is a gift from God, and when we die, we give it all back. What did we do with this gift while we were alive? Did we tithe, donate to charities, use it for God’s purpose and glory? Or did we spend half of it on a nice plasma TV and give the rest of it to the credit card company?

Nothing wrong with saving money for retirement and enjoying the fruits of your labor, of course. But if you just want to “live a certain kind of lifestyle,” then you’re stuck in a materialistic rut from which escape is difficult. For no matter how much you make, you’ll always need to live beyond your means to afford just a little bit better.

Just a friendly warning about materialism. 🙂

For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. 1 Timothy 6:7-10

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