Years ago we walked the train tracks by our house looking for ceramic insulators discarded from the old electric poles that went the length of the tracks. My grandfather would warn me that as soon as you see or hear a train you get far off the tracks. He said that even if a train is coming very slow it is hard to tell afar off how much momentum it is picking up and how quickly it can be upon you. He said “You should never get hit by a slow moving train.”
I remembered that story as I sat down with the Patterson’s to help them with their budget. They had a good steady income but they spent way beyond their means. The purchases seemed like a good idea at the time and they accumulated over many years but the day came when they had to borrow money just to pay the intereston their debt. They had warning signs along the way but they were ignored. The debt train started out slow and chugged along but every year it picked up momentum. The thing about a debt train with momentum is it is hard to slow down. Like an addict needing a fix the Patterson’s needed more stuff and many times paid retail price for items they had no business purchasing. As the debt train headed straight towards them it was hard to see the incredible momentum it had picked up from years of overspending. Now the Patterson’s owed many, many more times what they made and their lenders got smart and stopped lending to them. After all what logical lender would lend someone money just to pay the interest and nothing towards the principle? Even worse the Patterson’s showed a pattern of still using their charge cards up to their ceiling.
The Patterson’s debt train was destined to hit and they would default on their obligations. They had heard that they should have a six month emergency fund for rough times but there was always something they needed to buy. Not paying their bills would not only hit them it would have a ripple effect on their creditors and the small local businesses they owed money to. It was too late the train was moving fast and this time barley announced. The result was tragic and complete!
As you read the Patterson’s story no doubt you thought about how foolish the Patterson’s were. They had warning signs of what would happen over decades of overspending. It is obvious to us that no household can survive very long by just paying the interest on their debts and having the poor judgment to spend even more.
There is another House in Washington DC and for years the occupants have been walking the nearby tracks. They saw the train afar off a decade ago but this House is able to print money and put off the inevitable. Some of the members in the house were there a decade ago and some were not but at least now our debt is being addressed. If we cannot live a few days without borrowing to pay interest on our debt, not the principle, how secure does that make you feel about your future government benefits. Yes it is a temporary inconvenience, I have family members not being paid, but addressing it could lead to permanent improvement.
What was that I just heard? ……Was that a whistle………?
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