I’ve been mulling over an article that was on the Stuff website: Rise of fake rich: Kiwis look like they’re doing well, propped up by loans
Did you see it?
Quick recap: Those flash neighbours with the big house, late model cars and Instagram-worthy holidays are probably just Fake Rich, carrying huge amounts of lifestyle debt. The article carries statistics and quotes from experts, and a shed-load of judgey comments at the bottom.
The article made me sad, and it took me a while to figure out why. When I re-read it, I realised there were two implied judgements in the article and (especially) in the comments. One is that the Fake Rich are ‘other’. They’re not us. They’re not people we know or love. They’re strangers. Plus, they’re stupid. They knew what they were getting into, they deserve to be punished.
I don’t think they’re ‘other’. I think they are us, our families, our friends, our work colleagues. I’m damn sure that shaming and punishing isn’t going to be an effective way to help fix the problem. And I’ve yet to meet anyone who started out intending to carry huge credit card debt, or to constantly increase the limit on their revolving credit mortgage.
So how did they get there? Through a series of ‘gotchas’. I’ll go into more detail on these gotchas next time, but when you combine:
- how easy it is to get credit
- the way our brains work when we spend money we haven’t earned
- how difficult it is to stay connected to how much we’re spending
- how shaming it is to admit to having lifestyle debt
- and how hard it is to change your lifestyle and get out of debt
you now have the perfect environment to create a large number of people carrying overwhelming debt, who can then be judged for the situation they’re in.
If you’d like some non-judgemental help to get out of debt, without feeling deprived while you do so, scroll down and schedule a free call.