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Wow! It’s Wednesday!: Generation Debt

2 stories that I want to share with you:

1) I was listening to NPR the other day and a story came on about how college students are dealing with the current economic crisis. There was the usual, kids wanting to drop out to help their parents, and kids worried that they would have to drop out because their parents had been laid off. But then came the story of one female student who showed up in a counselor’s office in tears because one of her parents had taken out a credit card in her name and effectively ruined her credit.

2) The other story, is something I saw cited many places online. According to an ING study, black women give away too much money to their family, friends and church and this has compromised their ability to save or achieve the kind of lifestyle that they deserve. Apparently more than a third of all black women gave away more than $1000 to family and/or friends in the past year. We also spend too much money on “br

I found both of these situations interesting, because even before the economic crisis, I had personal experience with women whose parents had taken out credit cards in their name. I think it might actually be a common grievance, just rarely talked about because it’s a “family matter.”

As for the other story, same thing. Sadly, my sister was one of these women until I finally managed to find a decent job, and I still feel guilty about that. For a long while there, I was just rotten with money. You see, I’m still paying off my student loans (until I’m like 60), but I never received any kind of money education from my parents, other than my mother once telling me to “never lend more than I can afford to lose” and to consider all loans “gifts” and to always assume that I will never get the money back — this was great advice, but not nearly enough.

I don’t blame my parents. Debt was new to them — I can still remember when they got their first credit card – and I’m not surprised that they never grasped its far-reaching effects or taught us to handle money wisely. I’m sad that my father continues to be a slave to materialism and insane amounts of debt, but at least I know that I’m not and that I’ll do my utmost to make sure my children aren’t either.

Like I’ve been saying in past columns, I’ve been educating myself about money and debt over the last few non-starving-artist years, and I’ve talked to CH often about giving our children a thorough money education, so that they don’t fall into the same traps that I did. CH and I are both self-taught as far as spending money (somewhat) wisely goes, and I would like for that learning-the-hard-way mess to stop with us.

Anyway, this is all to say that I’d like to start a conversation about how different generations think about debt, and how we can prevent the next generation from making the same mistakes that we have. Please discuss in the comments.

Oh, and if you’re one of the many black women that reads this blog, you definitely want to read the full study here. Interesting but disturbing stats galore.


Photo Credit: Jenny Bauman