“They used to call me valued customer, now they are sending me hate mail.”
Becky Bloomwood Confessions of a Shopaholic
Every year, 1½ million Americans file for bankruptcy.
Imagine a widow with infant triplets who renews her health insurance policy the minute her old policy expires. She can’t get an internet connection, and she doesn’t want to risk being uninsured, so she gets up from the chair, only to trip over the power cord and fall headfirst onto a hardwood floor. She breaks 8 teeth and dislodges her lower vertebrae, requiring tens of thousands of dollars of dental work, surgery and rehab. She works as a model, so now she can’t draw a paycheck for the year. Two years ago, her husband died when he happened to be driving along a faultline as an 8.0 earthquake hit, so his life insurance didn’t pay out because it was an Act of God. The triplets’ grandparents all live in the Czech Republic, and the woman lives on a ranch in southern Oregon, miles from any neighbor who could help her get back on her feet. So she declares bankruptcy.
How many of last year’s bankruptcy claimants have similar stories, and how many bought too much junk on credit and never bothered to budget?
This might not sound kind, but most people in bad financial straits are there because they chose to be. Not in the sense that they said “I can’t wait to be broke,” but in that when they were buying cars with 8.9% financing and spending $100 a week on cigarettes, they didn’t think about where it would inevitably lead.
No one wants to die in a car accident, but if you drive through enough stop signs while talking on the phone, you can’t be surprised if it happens. (Of course you can’t be surprised, the part of your brain that senses surprise is now on the asphalt next to your cerebrum and your hippocampus.)
Personal responsibility is neither quaint nor outmoded. When enough people fail to exercise it, it leads to macroeconomic calamity. Of all the financial disasters of the last few years – the subprime mortgage crisis, the monster budget deficit, the stock market losing half its value, centuries-old investment banks going out of business – every last one happened because people who could have taken responsibility for their money chose to do something else instead.
“People tell you life is short. Life is long. Especially if you make the wrong decisions.”
Come check out Control Your Cash for one reason: your relationship with money is almost certainly dysfunctional. You don’t know what you don’t know, probably because nobody ever taught you.
Join, read, comment, share ideas. You can stop letting money act on you – and actually take charge of it.
 The amygdala, if you care.