I’m part of that group of upwardly mobile baby boomers who are rich in earnings potential but poor in available cash. That means that banks are willing to lend me large sums of money. It also means that credit card companies are mailing me introductory offers for which I’m “preapproved.”
Then, of course, there are those commercials on cable television filled with terrified people wanting help climbing the mountains of debt they have accumulated with the help of credit card companies and banks.
That, my friends, is known as capitalism.
Before Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac began supplying us with relatively low-cost mortgage money, people who wanted houses spent years saving enough money for a down payment. Some even scraped up the funds to be able to buy the house outright, without having to go to the bank president, hat in hand, for a loan.
But the availability of low-cost money has made us rather careless with the way we borrow and spend. A lot of us get into trouble, borrowing over our heads until we can only afford to make the minimum payments on our credit cards, if that.
What’s the use of having a spacious master bedroom if you can’t sleep at night, or a $60,000 top-of-the-line kitchen if everything you eat brings on indigestion because of your worries about debt?
Heavens’ first rule: Never let a house own you.