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Attitudes regarding debt have changed dramatically over the last fifty years. Those who lived through the Great Depression of the 1930s will never forget the things they felt and the events they lived through, and many people from that generation vowed to never go into debt again. However, most people who are alive today didn't live through the Great Depression. They don't know what it was like to live in a time of great economic uncertainty, and therefore they have very different views about debt than their parents and grandparents do. Instead of seeing debt as a villain, people today see debt as a tool to obtain what they want right now.

Advertising has been instrumental in promoting the view of debt as a tool: “Get what you want,” the advertisements say. “Get it now, and pay only $80 a month!” “Buy a car with zero down and make no payments for the next twelve months.”

Advertisements like these have been successful--too successful—in getting consumers to spend. Consumer debt has risen to a level that exceeds consumer disposable income, and the level is still rising. In the late nineties in particular, the stock market’s upward trend encouraged consumers to acquire significant debt. If the stock market had not stopped its upward trend, and if the economy hadn't faltered between 2000 and 2003, consumers might have continued their debt-acquisition sprees. The decline in the stock market and the slowing economy during these years led to a major increase in bankruptcies throughout the United States.


Once you have completed this section, you should be able to do the following:

  1. Understand what Church leaders have said regarding debt
  2. Understand the Debt Cycle and why people go into debt
  3. Understand how to develop and use personal debt-reduction strategies
  4. Know where to get help if you are too far in debt


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