If “we have to get a lot poorer ” means not having a 62 inch plasma tv, or the brand new I-phone (with contract) the day it’s released, or a McMansion with Rooms To Go furniture stuffed in every room and bought on a 5 yr. payment plan, then so be it. It’s about time people stopped with the hedonistic, gluttonous buy-buy-buy EVERYTHING NOW, even when they have to put it on credit, and get back to reality. Don’t buy what you can’t afford. Save (invest) at least 10% of your paycheck for retirement. Live within your means. Maybe this economic meltdown will cause a return to individual fiscal responsibility?
Like Patricia, many readers dismissed government reform in favor of individual responsibility. I agree that it would be great if we all lived within our means and saved so we could retire at a not-so-old age. If we all bought reasonably-priced houses and read the fine print to secure a fair mortgage. If we all practiced self-restraint and paid off our credit card bill in full.
The problem is, as a country, WE ARE VERY IRRESPONSIBLE WITH OUR MONEY. Do I even need to provide proof?
Which is why I think government reform could be the answer, perhaps on an educational level so that individuals are empowered to make savvy financial decisions. How about requiring high school students to take a class in personal finance, retirement planning, or budgeting 101? Teaching the next generation about money will spur financial change. No pun intended!