One of my favorite sources for financial news, CNN Money, recently featured a piece on America’s “Lost Decade.” It references Japan’s “Lost Decade” — a period of similar economic crisis that began in the 1990s when their own real estate bubble burst. The writer, Chris Isidore, says that private household debt in America is actually a much bigger problem than the government’s monstrous debt. With high unemployment and slow growth still plaguing us, it’s likely that things will continue to be this way for another six or seven years. We are “in for a long and painful adjustment period,” he says.
If consumer spending doesn’t increase, however, things just won’t get any better, Isidore writes. Our problems will continue as long as Americans stay in debt and out of retail shops. Isidore quotes the chair of Morgan Stanley Asia, Stephen Roach, as saying that “American consumers were turning into ‘zombie consumers,’ greatly because [they were] ‘burdened with underwater mortgages, excessive debt, and subpar saving, U.S. consumers are stretched as never before.'”
Have you been feeling like a zombie? I can’t say that I quite feel like the walking dead, though at times I feel like the gasoline prices are killing me. I know of two people who were just laid off, and I read countless stories of Americans truly struggling. Let’s hope that we don’t have to wait another six or seven years for things to get better. To do so, we as a country need to conquer our debt, start saving and contribute to the economy.
Learn more about achieving personal finance success with the following roundup of my favorite personal finance blog posts from the past week.
1. MoneyCrush describes her rocky history with credit cards and how she has learned to use them responsibly.
2. Some guys feel the pressure to impress a girl on their first date, but there is no need to go broke. Instead of using a credit card, try one of these 22 budget first date ideas from Money Crashers instead.
3. One time in college, I had to put $300 on my credit card because my dog had a health emergency and I didn’t have the money in my bank account. I quickly learned how expensive pets could be. Squawkfox writes a two-part series (part one and part two) about how to save money as a pet owner.
4. Money Reasons shares his thoughts on the notion of credit card companies limiting what consumers are allowed to buy and explains why it may not be a bad thing.
5. One Money Design weighs the pros and cons of paying for a credit monitoring service.
6. Yes, I am Cheap compares negotiating your credit card debt yourself versus paying professionals to do it, and outlines what’s needed to do it if you want to do it on your own.
7. There are many factors that go into determining your credit score, but Not Made of Money lists five things that do not affect it.
8. Live Real, Now offers solid advice on prioritizing your spending and lists five questions you should ask yourself before a purchase.
9. Boomer & Echo presents a funny post that explains how mastering personal finances can be compared to potty training a child.
10. Kitten a Go-Go reveals 10 ways she managed to pay off $30,000 in debt in just two years. That is one dedicated lady.