The other day I saw an ad for a mattress store that offered financing, so you can "sleep in peace" on your brand-spanking-new $7,000 mattress set. (Talk about irony!)
Having personal debt is the American way. It makes the impossible possible. It's seen as benign or even good.
Personal consumer debt is one of the most dangerous financial products ever created.
Federal Reserve data show that Americans owe $11.74 trillion as of 2014. Some $882.6 billion of that is credit card debt, $1.13 trillion is student loans, and another $8.14 trillion is mortgages. An estimated 119.3 million indebted households carry an average of $15,257 each, or more than double the $7,117 carried (and paid off monthly) by non-indebted households.
The way I see things, debt is nothing more than "plastic prosperity" that makes you feel like you have more spending power. It's a myth that's been sold to the American public methodically and systematically for 30 years. And it wrecks lives.
Getting out of debt (or avoiding it entirely) is an absolute imperative when it comes to building Total Wealth.
But as an investor, there is one instance where you should consider taking on debt.
There's one instance where debt can even be profitable.
First Thing's First – Get Personal Debt out of Your Life
Before I can show you the one way you can use personal debt to your advantage, it's really important to step back for the bigger picture.
Washington believes personal debt is absolutely essential to the economy, noting repeatedly that both industrial output and employment would suffer if consumer credit diminished. What else would you expect them to say?
But Washington's got it wrong.
Rising credit usage is a sign that more families have to borrow to make ends meet. It's not a sign of returning consumer confidence, but proof positive that everything's getting more expensive.
Critics – and debt proponents – screech that overall debt levels are dropping and that this is a sign that the economy is getting stronger. They're right on one count… overall indebtedness has fallen from $19,000 per household at the height of the financial crisis to $15,611 as of January.
About the Author
Keith Fitz-Gerald has been the Chief Investment Strategist for the Money Morning team since 2007. He's a seasoned market analyst with decades of experience, and a highly accurate track record. Keith regularly travels the world in search of investment opportunities others don't yet see or understand. In addition to heading The Money Map Report, Keith runs High Velocity Profits, which aims to get in, target gains, and get out clean. In his weekly Total Wealth, Keith has broken down his 30-plus years of success into three parts: Trends, Risk Assessment, and Tactics – meaning the exact techniques for making money. Sign up is free at totalwealthresearch.com.