Personal debt and a lack of savings are at all-time highs in America. While this may seem concerning, some argue it fuels economic growth. So should we want everyone to be financially responsible? Or is reckless spending necessary?
Americans Are Struggling Financially
The average American is not in a strong financial position right now. A recent survey showed that 2 in 5 think credit card debt is embarrassing. But high debt levels and little savings are now the norm (financially responsible).
- A majority cannot cover a $1,000 emergency without borrowing. Even 1/3 of those earning $250k+ live paycheck to paycheck.
- Baby boomers lack half of what’s needed for retirement. Many Americans are one missed paycheck from disaster.
- During the pandemic, savings grew with stimulus checks. But now that money has evaporated as prices rise.
It’s easy to call financial struggles irresponsible. But for many, expenses outweigh income, even when living frugally. Building emergency and retirement savings is expensive (emergency fund, retirement savings).
Reckless Spending Fuels Economic Growth
If everyone was financially responsible, spending on nonessential goods would plummet. In 2021, the average American spent $188k on stuff like restaurant meals, new cars, and vacations.
Some companies rely on overspending to thrive – think fast fashion, auto dealers, credit lenders. If people only bought what they needed, these businesses would suffer.
There would also be fewer job opportunities in these sectors. So you could argue overspending gives others a chance to earn. Some see living paycheck to paycheck as financially responsible, if income is low.
This reckless spending boosts GDP growth. And it helps drive consumption of new innovative products and services. Perhaps widespread financial irresponsibility has economic benefits?
Why We Should Still Promote Responsibility
Despite potential growth impacts, there are good reasons to want more financial responsibility.
1. It Would Benefit Everyone
Widespread recklessness has downsides too. With less savings, subscription services are booming. People increasingly rentinstead of owning goods outright.
This is often worse value long-term. And it leaves people beholden to recurring fees, with less freedom over purchases. More savings would provide options beyond subscriptions (paycheck to paycheck).
Overconsumption also has environmental costs. More responsible spending would ease these problems. And lower demand could cut costs, helping financially responsible goals.
2. Long-Term Purchases Would Rise
If people saved more and spent better, they would eventually buy big ticket items. Demand would shift from fast consumables to lasting investments.
These include homes, solar panels, tools, and quality goods. While some sectors may suffer short-term, industries supplying responsible purchases could thrive (financially secure).
3. More Money For Social Programs
With smart spending and savings, more tax revenue would be available to help those in need. And demand for debt relief and welfare programs would fall.
Reckless spending does benefit some companies and create jobs. But the economy can grow sustainably through more responsible consumption too. And this offers advantages for individuals and society.
Promoting better financial habits is worthwhile, despite potential impacts on short-term growth. It can help create a more stable, secure, and environmentally friendly future.