I love this old Saturday Night Live skit with Steve Martin called “Don’t Buy Stuff You Cannot Afford”:
If you can’t see the video, it starts out like this:
Wife: Ugh, I just can’t get these numbers to add up.
Husband: Like we’re never going to get out of this hole…
Wife: Credit card debt. Does it ever end?
Salesperson: Maybe I can help.
Husband: We sure could use it.
Wife: We’ve tried debt consolidation companies.
Husband: We’ve even taken out loans to help make payments.
Salesperson: Well, you’re not the only ones. Did you know that millions of Americans live with debt they cannot control? That’s why I developed this unique new program for managing your debt. It’s called, “Don’t Buy Stuff You Cannot Afford”.
(The salesperson holds up the book, and the video goes on from there.)
It’s a funny video because it’s all about pointing out the obvious. But what’s interesting about it to me is that no one in the audience laughs until the salesperson holds up the book.
In other words, debt is so normal in our culture that a statement like “We’ve even taken out loans to help make payments” doesn’t strike anyone as funny or even unusual. Even though you can’t borrow your way out of debt.
It’s time to change that. And it starts with us.