Household debt rising

HamiltonGardener

This report is for the USA, but Canada is also on the same path.


https://amp.cnn.com/cnn/2020/02/12/economy/us-household-debt-record/index.html


My household debt has risen in the past 5 years, but not a concern.


How do you guys see this?

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Ann

It's an unfortunate trend. When I look at my parent's generation and my children's generation, the difference is huge. People budgeted and saved so much more in the past than in the present.

No debt for us, but that's been our case for a long time. I use credit cards all the time (for convenience) but have never paid interest on a credit card balance. We save for cars in advance and keep them for a very long time. Our house was paid off prior to retirement.

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elvis

Ditto. We're boring, I guess.

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numbersjunkie

Privilege.

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catkinZ8a

Just say NO to OPM.

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Chi

I don't think it's really fair to compare generations. College tuition rates have exploded in recent decades, student loan interest rates are high, and the cost of living in many areas with the good job markets is very high.

So while I'll agree that people are saving less, life is also just a lot more expensive, and when you start out at 22 already burdened with significant student loan debt, it gets more and more difficult to dig yourself out. I don't think that's a problem our grandparents had.

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margaritadina

I paid cash for my Masters. Having a mortgage and other house and personal expenses at the same time. And two dogs, one of whom required hefty $$ vet care.

My debt is in decline, I am credit card-free, except for two store cards that I use occasionally and pay off the same month. 401s are doing great, I have four years to put significant amount of cash away before Dem gets on the WH and screws everything up.

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tryingtounderstand

Debt is huge. However, one ought to consider what type of debt. In Canada, student loans are a tax deduction. MORTGAGES ARE OK TOO, IN MY BOOKS. We drive older vehicles, in fact our newest car is a 2012. Today, many folk want IT right now, can’t wait and are in,y too willing to make xxx easy payments. My DD is wise with her money, but I am aghast at how much they spend and don’t do without.

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tryingtounderstand

Credit cards are the scourge of the earth!

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Stan Areted

Don't get that.

I don't carry debt.

No reason for increasing debt except that people want more and more and do not want to pay for it, or can't. Credit cards should only be used for convenience and paid off each billing cycle or for emergencies.

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bob_cville

Of course it could be a sign that the super-duper great economy isn't actually so great for everyone. For many the largest contributor to ballooning household debt isn't wastrel discretionary spending, It is exorbitant medical bills.

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Chi

"No reason for increasing debt except that people want more and more and do not want to pay for it, or can't"

That's a very simplified view. While I'm sure that there are some who go into debt for frivolous things, there are also many others forced into debt despite their best efforts.

A real life example - when I was 22, my childhood cat got sick and to save her life I had to open my very first credit card and put a few thousand on it. From there I entered a cycle for 3 years where I didn't have enough money to fully pay it off and just got further and further behind with interest rates on my very modest income at the time. I eventually paid it off with an inheritance, but I can easily see how people become trapped in that cycle. What was the alternative - let my cat die? I don't regret it.

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vgkg (Va Z-7)

Why should people act any different from their irresponsible government? Debting it forward and spending like there's no tomorrow and guess what happens?

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Jonnygun(zone 7)

So Chi at the age of 22 you indebted yourself for 3 years or more to pay for a cat's medical bills? Better than a cell phone or clothes I guess.

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Ann

"For many the largest contributor to ballooning household debt isn't wastrel discretionary spending, It is exorbitant medical bills."

And, extremely nice new cars (several within one household), exorbitant cell phone plans, second and third homes, 4 TVs within one home, dinner out several times a week, manicures and pedicures, etc. All fine for those who can afford this lifestyle, but certainly problematic if debt is incurred in order to accumulate. This is what I think the biggest difference is between the current generation and a generation or two ago. "Necessities" has taken on a significantly different meaning in America. Our country is quite unique in that view.

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Chi

Jonny, we all have different value systems. I couldn't live with myself if I let my cat die for a few thousand dollars. I would never go into debt for phones or clothes. Those things don't matter to me, but my pets do.

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catspa_zone9sunset14

Or differently from corporations? Corporate debt levels have now climbed past pre-Great Recession levels and are massive. Opinions about the implications of this are mixed, as they might also be about rising household debt. After all, roughly 2/3 of the U.S. economy depends on consumer spending, whether people have the actual money or not.


source

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Ann

"Why should people act any different from their irresponsible government?"

Easy answer. Because acting irresponsibly puts one in quite a jam. What one's neighbor or government does by no means dictates what makes the best sense for them. You know, personal responsibility and all.

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queenmargo

Now I can agree with you Chi;)

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Ann

"Why should people act any different from their irresponsible government?"

I'm having a super hard time walking away from this - following my previous comment about it. I'd like to write about 50 comments about every part of this short question and my reaction to so much about it but walk away, I better.

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Iris GW

And, extremely nice new cars (several within one household), exorbitant cell phone plans, second and third homes, 4 TVs within one home, dinner out several times a week, manicures and pedicures, etc.

Not sure who you're describing. I know of no one with a second home, let alone a third. Do you know how much a TV screen costs now? You can get one for $99, not the big ticket item it used to be. I know a lot more people who are struggling just to pay rent, food, work expenses (clothes, transportation), childcare, and medical bills. Ya know, the basics. And yeah, they're carrying balances--not because they want to, but because they have to. That's most of America, not people with second homes.

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tryingtounderstand

We use credit cards for everything. And over 10 years have never ever paid interest. But, do we ever have a whole lot of points. Enough for a round world ticket. Wanna bet, capital one hates us lol (:

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Nana H

I thought vgvg comment was meant tounge in cheek as is often his style.

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Ann

TTU, I bet , like us, you get constant phone messages and paper mail with offers to open new credit cards because of your excellent credit, so the companies don't likely hate you. It's weird, isn't it? I wonder why anyone would want us as a credit card customer, because like you, they pay us rather than us paying them.

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katrina_ellen

I know someone who makes a decent income but she is always getting payroll loans and paying that high interest. She smokes a lot of money, and I don't mean cigarettes, she eats out all the time, doesn't cook. 3 kids and a live in boyfriend that only works a lowpaying part time job. Nobody could improve her financial status. The reason the op posted is to blame others financial matters on Trump. That's so disingenuous.

I'm doing fine, living below my means, Trumps tax cut helped me. I don't want that taken away by a free wheeling, free for all Democrat. Democrats have nothing for me policy wise. Nothing.

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queenmargo

Ann, the credit card companies get paid on the other end too;) They double dip!

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Nana H

Credit card companies make tons of money from the merchants. They want EVERYONE of good credit having a card and they want it to be theirs.

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queenmargo

Wow, I agree with Nana, lol. The credit card is world wide;)

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catspa_zone9sunset14

Sort of ironic that if everyone in the U.S. actually lived within or below their means, the U.S. economy would probably implode. Careful about judging those spendthrifts, as they are probably the ones keeping us all afloat.

In the neighborhood of 2/3 of all bankruptcies are due to medical expense. A little tough to judge that kind of debt, as it could happen to any of us, with enough bad luck.

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vgkg (Va Z-7)

"I thought vgkg comment was meant tongue in cheek as is often his style".

Usually Nana, but there are people who look to their government to set an example, and good examples are hard to find these daze.

"Easy answer. Because acting irresponsibly puts one in quite a jam. What one's neighbor or government does by no means dictates what makes the best sense for them. You know, personal responsibility and all."

Thankfully Ann I ignore imitating the actions of my irresponsible government, but not everyone does. The government is indeed putting US in a debt jam which is in the process of jelling.....into cement.

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THOR, Son of ODIN(2)

Spoiler: It's not the lattes and avocado toasts.


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elvis

For many the largest contributor to ballooning household debt isn't wastrel discretionary spending, It is exorbitant medical bills.

I disagree. I posit that for many the largest contributor to ballooning household debt is (wastrel?) discretionary spending, for some it is exorbitant medical bills.

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elvis

A real life example - when I was 22, my childhood cat got sick and to save her life I had to open my very first credit card and put a few thousand on it. From there I entered a cycle for 3 years where I didn't have enough money to fully pay it off and just got further and further behind with interest rates on my very modest income at the time. I eventually paid it off with an inheritance, but I can easily see how people become trapped in that cycle. What was the alternative - let my cat die? I don't regret it.

It's about choices. When I was 22, I was living hand to mouth. I didn't keep a pet, because that's not practical when renting. I gave my childhood dog away to a vetted home. Change my life choices for a pet? Um, no.

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Iris GW

A new study from academic researchers found that 66.5 percent of all bankruptcies were tied to medical issues —either because of high costs for care or time out of work.

https://www.cnbc.com/2019/02/11/this-is-the-real-reason-most-americans-file-for-bankruptcy.html

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elvis

Not sure who you're describing. I know of no one with a second home, let alone a third.

Maybe not IRL, but here on HT you do.

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Jonnygun(zone 7)

How does a person go under due to medical Bill's? A sincere question of mine because I know wealthy people that pay out of pocket, middle class people who pay $1400+ monthly in insurance and poor folks who pay nothing.


The debt ridden I know are the typical to me with 2+ cars on payments, newest tech, McMansions, foodie addictions and multiple vacations a year.

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Nana H

Obviously, we don't have the same financial burden as Americans when it comes to healthcare or education so that isn't a large factor here. For many around me it is the ballooning cost of home ownership and/or rent which has grown much faster than wages.

I do think the youger generation has different expectations than we did but the next logical question is where did they learn that? Perhaps our generation indulged them more than our parents indulged us...because we could.

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Nana H

"Not sure who you're describing. I know of no one with a second home, let alone a third."
"Maybe not IRL, but here on HT you do"

I believe the context of the original statement being referred to was in the context of household debt.

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elvis

Iris GW

A new study from academic researchers found that 66.5 percent of all bankruptcies were tied to medical issues —either because of high costs for care or time out of work.

Lots of people like to say that. New England Journal of Medicine begs to differ, but sadly, their information isn't what many expect/want to hear. Wah. With respect to that 60 something percent:

...Critics at the time, including me, pointed out that there were all sorts of problems with the data, but none of the critiques had the viral charms of the original study.

But behind the scenes, the debate has continued. And last week, the New England Journal of Medicine published a new estimate done by a team of health and labor economists. Their method is considerably more robust than the one adopted by Warren et al., who looked at the presence of medical bills in bankruptcy filings.

The problem with doing that is that bankruptcy tends to be multi-causal. If you have a half-million-dollar house, three luxury cars, a boat — and also a heart attack — which of these things “caused” your bankruptcy? So Carlos Dobkin, Amy Finkelstein, Raymond Kluender and Matthew J. Notowidigdo did what’s called an “event study.” Instead of looking at bankruptcies to see how many involved medical bills, they started with the illness, and asked how much more likely people were to declare bankruptcy after they got sick.

That’s a much better way to tease out causation than asking whether someone who just went through a financially ruinous divorce also owed his or her dermatologist thousands of dollars. The answer they came up with will surprise even critics of Warren et al.: The fraction of bankruptcies caused by medical events is just 4 percent. And even among those bankruptcies, it seems that medical bills may be less of a problem than the other things associated with an illness, such as lost labor income.

In other words: Medical bankruptcy probably wasn’t nearly as big a problem as people thought when we were passing our giant new health-care program. And to the extent that it was a problem, Obamacare probably didn’t do much to fix it. That jibes with what we’ve seen in the bankruptcy data since Obamacare passed. If medical bills really were driving so many people into bankruptcy, then we would have expected filings to plummet after 2013, when millions of people gained health insurance coverage. Instead we see a smooth decline from the recession-era peak.

More at the link:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-partisan/wp/2018/03/26/the-truth-about-medical-bankruptcies/

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adoptedbyhounds

What was the rise in debt for?

If people are feeling confident about their economic future the rise in debt may be voluntary. Buying houses, furniture, cars, and things that weren’t in the budget in recent years.


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margaritadina

''

Chi

"A real life example - when I was 22, my childhood cat got sick and to
save her life I had to open my very first credit card and put a few
thousand on it. From there I entered a cycle for 3 years where I didn't
have enough money to fully pay it off and just got further and further
behind with interest rates on my very modest income at the time. I
eventually paid it off with an inheritance, but I can easily see how
people become trapped in that cycle. What was the alternative - let my
cat die? I don't regret it.

''

Hats off to you, Chi. You did the right thing.

Unexpected emergencies can be financially hard for many.

I had that when I bought the house. A lot of expensive stuff had to be replaced in the first few years on the emergency basis. But it was my fault, I was inexperienced, didn't really do my homework, and didn't recognize what am I getting for a house. All good now, but it was hard, fun but hard. Oddly, this experience changed my personality, I wasn't frugal at all before I bought a house ))).


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catspa_zone9sunset14

@ chi: What was the alternative - let my cat die? I don't regret it.

*********************************************************************************************
@ elvis: It's about choices. When I was 22, I was living hand to mouth. I didn't keep a pet, because that's not practical when renting. I gave my childhood dog away to a vetted home. Change my life choices for a pet? Um, no.

***********************************************************************************************

No better example of an essential difference in values than that. Myself? I fall on the chi side, having kept the cats I've committed to through thick and thin (and there was a lot of thin) my entire life. These days, less economic stress, but I get up by 5 a.m., latest, every-single-day, to feed a 16-year old feral kitty with one eye who is one of the loves of my life -- yep, there's a life-changing choice, alright.

Not everything has a "choice", by the way. Stuff happens. I recently spent a few hours in an emergency room (and, yes, it was a real emergency), to the tune of $15,000+ (not all the bills are in yet). Fortunately, Kaiser is paying for all of it for me, but there are a whole lot of people out there with lousy insurance coverage (like some plans the Trump administration has been promoting) who wouldn't be so lucky. You really don't know how good your insurance is until something happens.




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Jonnygun(zone 7)

Thanks Iris. I truly struggle with this.


In my early 30s my mother was diagnosed with stage 4 bladder cancer. She was 64 and without insurance. Before she died, and in the year she was without insurance, she spent about $150k. Then she got on medicare, then she passed. We were pissed at the costs, but she/we paid it.


In the GQ article the guy was saddled with $120k worth of medical expenses and what did he do, he filed for bankruptcy. He didnt make payments, didnt give up his home, savings or 401k. He just filed and stiffed everyone involved. That is relevant to me.


This country needs a safety net, but your healthcare should be your responsibility. Not a cost passed along to others.

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Iris GW

He didnt make payments, didnt give up his home, savings or 401k.

Interesting. I didn't think you could really file if you had tangible assets.

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margaritadina

''your healthcare should be your responsibility. Not a cost passed along to others.''

This is very slippery slope... Yes and no.

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Jonnygun(zone 7)

I dont know Iris. I ass-u-med that the article would have detailed his financial burden pain if he had...

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Jonnygun(zone 7)

"This is very slippery slope... Yes and no."


What do you mean? Insurance spreads the liability, Medicaid pays for the poor.


My problem is people that file bankruptcy to avoid their otherwise payable debt. A 58 year old man should be able to handle payments on $120k. They spread those longer than mortgages. We paid it off early, but my first kid was born without insurance (we had an old school catastrophic plan) and the ~$40k delivery cost was financed out 20 years lol. Granted it ended up only costing $20k (including post and pre natal) and we paid it off in less than 2 years, but still.

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HamiltonGardener

katrina_ellen

The reason the op posted is to blame others financial matters on Trump. That's so disingenuous.


That is a completely untrue statement. It had nothing to do with Trump. I don't live in the USA and I specifically said that the same thing is happening in Canada.


I often post articles concerning household debt AND government debt.


If you look at my posts through the years, you will see I have been critical of rising government debt through Bush, Obama, and Trump... as well as through Harper and Trudeau.


I am critical of "bad" household debt and advocate for ways to reduce it, while at the same time acknowledging that rising "good" household debt is a means to a better economy.


Your comment is a shot at making believe I want to take part in the petty political p1ss1ng contest.


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elvis

Katrina doesn't "know" you, HG. Hopefully she'll pop in and straighten this out. She was out of line.

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Embothrium(Sunset Climate Zone 5, USDA Hardiness Zone 8)

Income Inequality: Rising income inequality has left less of the nation’s money in the hands of the middle class, and the traditional retail stores that cater to them have suffered. The Pew Research Center estimates that since 1970, the share of the nation’s income earned by families in the middle class has fallen from almost two-thirds to around 40 percent. Small wonder, then, that retailers aiming at the ends of the income distribution — high-income people and lower-income people — have accounted for virtually all the revenue growth in retail while stores aimed at the middle have barely grown at all, according to a report by Deloitte.

As the concentration of income at the top rises, overall retail suffers simply because high-income people save a much larger share of their money. The government reports spending for different income levels in the official Consumer Expenditure Survey. In the latest data, people in the top 10 percent of income saved almost a third of their income after taxes. People in the middle of the income distribution spent 100 percent of their income. So as the middle class has been squeezed and more has gone to the top, it has meant higher saving rates overall.

Never Mind the Internet. Here's What's Killing Malls.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/money/companies/never-mind-the-internet-heres-whats-killing-malls/ar-BBZXavj?ocid=spartandhp

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haydayhayday

catspa:

"In the neighborhood of 2/3 of all bankruptcies are due to medical expense. "

Says who?

These creeps?




They lie.

Hay


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Zalco/bring back Sophie!

Trade offs are not fashionable these days.

People bemoan the cost of a college education and point out the Europeans have it cheaper. Well, yes they most certainly pay less for their degrees, but there are trade offs.

First, not everyone gets to go to college. Tracking in a France begins in middle school. Get tracked no college at that age and your choices narrow. Second trade off, the beloved liberal arts education. Those subjects are covered in much more depth in high school in Europe. And while you can major in literature or philosophy there, the competition for a seat is fierce. Professional training starts right away. No four years of undergrad and the apply to medical school. You get in right out of high school and then you have to stay in. Third trade off, no luxury apartments, dorms, meals, climbing walls, and what nots. The university is for learning. There are no remedial courses and office hours are unheard of. Those are some of the trade offs.

I see the same problem with other costs, like housing. Our average square footage has grown while the size of our households has shrunk.

I am far from old, firmly middle aged Gen Xer who is not particularly frugal, but from my vantage point I see this unwillingness to accept trade offs play out across all sorts of lines in society today, not just economic, but career and family. Every choice you make has a cost. You may be able to have it all, but certainly not all at once, as some sage once said.

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HamiltonGardener

I am far from old, firmly middle aged Gen Xer who is not particularly frugal, but from my vantage point I see this unwillingness to accept trade offs play out across all sorts of lines in society


Zalco,

I also see the same thing, especially in the young people we are hiring. They go on several vacations a year, (the kind most of us “far from old” people in the office couldn’t afford until we were older), they drive new cars off the lot (used cars used to be the norm for youngsters) but then they can’t afford to buy a house.


Not so much the millennials, they are paying bills and piecing together for condos and houses. But the following generation...Gen Z (about 25 and under), a credit card is just a magic money card that they can get new ones any time. Brand new cars with 8 year payment plans. Two kids (late twenties) in our lunch room talking about thinking of declaring bankruptcy to erase all the credit cards and loans, then they will just pay cash for everything until they can discharge the bankruptcy. Their concern was whether they could get through an overseas vacation with cash alone, no need for credit cards, how to reserve hotel rooms without a card.


Its trade offs, but it depends where priorities lie. Some people would be more concerned about their credit rating for buying a house or starting a family. To others, it doesn’t matter.

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Stan Areted


ZALCO:

I am far from old, firmly middle aged Gen Xer who is not particularly frugal, but from my vantage point I see this unwillingness to accept trade offs play out across all sorts of lines in society today, not just economic, but career and family. Every choice you make has a cost. You may be able to have it all, but certainly not all at once, as some sage once said.

Great post and timely, salient points, Zalco!

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Stan Areted

From you, too, Hamilton Gardener; I enjoy reading your input and observations.

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Ann

Zalco, when visiting France and learning from a guide, housing for college students in France is a nearly insurmountable problem. They try to find a tiny room to be shared with many students, but it is very difficult to find or too expensive to consider. So, unless they can live with a willing relative, college can often be unattainable/unaffordable due to the housing aspect.

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Zalco/bring back Sophie!

Ann, there is major unrest over student housing options in a France right now. The system has not changed since my grandfather went to school in the 30s and rented an apartment, complete with housekeeper, in the Latin Quarter. The expectations of who could access a university education were very different once upon a time. The French university provides an education and nothing else. The American college experience is vastly different.

Here is a piece about a student's self immolation this past November.

https://www.france24.com/en/20191114-french-university-student-s-self-immolation-sparks-anger-over-living-conditions

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Ann

Oh, that's super sad. That's the situation the guide described when some of the Americans in my group were talking about how "lucky" the students were to not pay tuition. She got quite a serious expression as she described there is a great deal more to the situation than free tuition - and the rest of the story is insurmountable for most college age residents.

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Wants to Grow

There is a correlation between low interest rates, making money cheap to borrow, and rising household debt.

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Ziemia(6a)

Agree, WTG.

I only glanced at the list of reasons for the growing household debt, but some of it is is mortage-related. I didn't search further to see if it relates to first-time home buyers. (Or re-fis to take more value out of the home now vs. later.)

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HamiltonGardener

WTG,

You are correct.

But depending on what type of debt and the individuals ability to pay if rates go up, low interest rates can be a good or bad thing.


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Jonnygun(zone 7)

I have no link and no time to research. BUT, I once read an article that asserted that the lower the socioeconomic position the higher the rate of default. Yet, I hear more and more that factors other than a person's ability to repay be considered when considering if a person is eligible for a loan. Mortgages mostly...

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patriciae_gw(07)

I remember when Boomers were lazy, thoughtless, profligate, spendaholics. So now we are frugal, careful, saving, sensible folk. How did that happen?

I am only going to add that The Man in the White House has to be one of the most highly leveraged individuals on the planet. I am surprised to see his supporters coming out against debt. Trump is the Emperor of Debt.

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arcy_gw

How did Trump get drug into the dept debate? Debt has been the scourge of Americans since at least the 80s!!! Back in the day I was taught the psychology of advertising. How we are all susceptible the rich and the poor. Sadly most of what I read here tells me ya all fell for it!!!

The bottom line issue is spending beyond your means. If you can't afford a pet YOU CAN'T AFFORD A PET and you shouldn't have one!! for example, but feel free to insert anything thing where "cat" is. If you have to open a credit card to pay for ANYTHING; YOU CAN'T AFFORD IT. The possibility of medical issues is why you SAVE money. Why you have to have a reserve vs. spending it on a cat +interest. Counting on Inheritance to bail you out is how many got into the trouble they are in. They planned to ride the wave until mommy keeled over. That is their fault. They planned POORLY. Whine all you want but the bottom line is those is debt made poor financial choices so they could keep up with the Jones's even when they couldn't afford it!!

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HamiltonGardener

Yet, I hear more and more that factors other than a person's ability to repay be considered when considering if a person is eligible for a loan.


Jonnygun,


We own a number of rental properties and see people of various means applying for them. We often have a stack of application to compare.

One might think that taking the family with a higher income is a good strategy to ensure your tenants have the means to pay their rent, but it is not.

We have learned that you first make sure they earn enough money to pay a minimum of bills. Then more importantly, do the credit check and at least two previous landlords or other debt references.

We can have a person who makes $2,500 a month, but prioritizes their essential bills and has a squeaky clean credit record.

But then a person who makes $5,000 a month and blows the money on racing bikes and snowmobiles and booze and their previous landlords say they still owe 6 months of rent. It happens more often than you think.

We also scour the social media accounts of potential applicants to look for red flags, as do employers and sometimes loan companies.


We also have recently started asking for criminal record checks, although I have never seen a bank that does, maybe they should. Fraud charges show up.

So you are correct, and more than just mortgage loans. Even just for finding a place to rent or getting a job, more than just the ability to pay is taken into account.


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patriciae_gw(07)

Arcy, how many people can afford to buy a house without a mortgage? Pretty much everyone? I can tell you from personal experience that virtually no one can afford to be seriously ill by saving their pennies. You would need mountains of them. Giving up food wouldn't save enough to pay medical bills in a real illness. While it is true that too many get in to debt over frivolous things many people cant manage the basics. Interesting pov here. I was recently reading about Britain in the early 1800's and they had some serious famine due to crop failures. They passed laws to keep the price of grain high so that the great estates wouldn't lose money. People starved. They were faulted by government for buying BREAD instead of cheaper stuff like oats or potatoes. Why those rotten lazy feckless poors insisted on eating that most frivolous article bread and that was why they were poor. It wasn't laws supporting the wealthy, it was gorging on bread. Imagine.

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HamiltonGardener

Patricia,

Im interested in this one, I would have assumed that crop failures would bring the price of grain up, not down.

Do you have which laws were put in place to artificially force the price of grain up?

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patriciae_gw(07)

Not us Hamilton, early 19th century Britain passed what was called the corn laws on top of some pre-existing laws designed to keep the price of grains high and not allow imported grains which would bring the price of grain down. With major crop failure towards the end of the Napoleonic war and a very cold winter people started to seriously starve but parliament was unmoved by poor people starving and it was indeed debated that the real problem was poor people choosing wheat bread over oats or the relatively new but cheap potato. Having just read a diary by a Dr Lucas in Scotland of the same period where he religiously posts the price of things like meat, corn (general grains) oats and potatoes and why, I was enamored by this argument about people eating bread as if that was wild luxury. And here is the truly bizarre part. The Corn Laws were eventually done away with but not because people went hungry. The owners of the newly growing domestic industry for household goods were peeved that the not absolutely poverty stricken(who had a dole) were having to spend so much money for basic food they didn't have money left over for stuff-all the geegaws that people today complain is what keeps people poor.

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HamiltonGardener

Ah, see, I totally misread that. I thought you meant crop failures caused the price of grain to go down. That sounded bizarre to me.

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