Let me start this article by saying that there isn't a doubt in my mind that we are the good guys, wearing the white hats, and they are the scoundrels, aka the "bad guys". I am sure to turn a deaf ear to those arguing the other way, because it isn't correct. Now that I have the two sides identified, we can begin to make our case. And we will!
Checking the date on the calendar, October 26, one can readily see that Halloween hasn't yet arrived, albeit very near, and that our attentions are already diverted. To what, you say? Have you not been to your local merchandising establishment? To that other part of the Holiday Season – the one where we as a nation commit financial suicide each year? Of the massive record credit card debt weighing down our citizens, I dare say that the vast majority of it was run up in the months of November and December. And why, you ask, do we do this? We are enticed, cajoled, harassed and made to feel unpatriotic, irreverent, cheap and "scrooge like" by “them” – the retailers of America – if we do not fall lock step behind our neighbors and start shelling out cash like it grows on trees (with deference again to the farmers).
I make light of the situation because it is so serious, and the people who are the worst offenders and the least able to afford the Holiday Season turn a deaf ear to suggestions that they must change their financial habits. So I am trying to sneak up on them. I do realize that the Holiday Season is now a significant part of our country's Gross Domestic Product. For many retailers, a good or poor season makes or breaks their year. And taking it another step, I know that a lot of people and pension plans invest in the stock market, and the Holiday Season affects their fortune, as the various companies report their earnings in January and beyond. My feeling is, so what? Are people supposed to sacrifice their financial future for the common good of some of their neighbors?
Credit cards are the most expensive installment debt in the world. I have said it before and I will continue to say it. One of the reasons is that they weren't set up to be paid out over a long period of time. They were set up to extend credit until the end of the month. A lot of things that were set up or invented in the past have been misconstrued or simply changed over time, and this is just one of them. Credit card companies are not only willing to raise their rates at will, but also to extend your credit limits with the wink of an eye. If you think retailers are gearing up for the big push, it pales in comparison to the credit card companies. It reminds me of my old friend Stan Freberg's record of yesteryear "Green Christmas".
Roger Schlesinger's Mortgage Minute is heard on hundreds of radio stations and daily on the Hugh Hewitt radio show and Michael Medved shows. Roger interacts with his hosts and explores the complicated financial markets in order to enlighten his listeners and direct them along their own unique road to financial freedom.