Staying Out Of The Red Is The New Black

All of a sudden, everyone is interested in how their banks, credit cards, credit scores, credit reports, mortgages, and money actually work. Staying out of the red is the new black. Have you found yourself talking more about money matters and strategies with friends, family, co-workers, and even strangers?

(Photo: darkmatter)


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  1. samurailynn says:

    We have a foreign exchange student living with us. She’s 17 and she’s always asking questions about the economy, and actually enjoys my long winded answers.

  2. m4ximusprim3 says:

    I was just remarking to my co-worker that less people ignore me when I talk about consumer/economy related issues than used to.

    Which is good, I guess.

  3. AdmiralKit says:

    Even before the meltdown in the economy became obvious, talking with people about debt-related issues without speaking directly about their debt has been something most of my friends have been interested in listening to. I’ve even gone as far as typing up a document about what the basics you need to know about credit reports and scores are, and my friends really appreciated having it all in one location rather than digging through dusty tomes of the internet to find it out for themselves.

  4. Skankingmike says:

    I’ve been talking to anybody that would listen about the Forthcoming Economic crises for a while.

    I’ve been telling people not to buy houses for the past 4 years, that the market is inflated and it’ll burst so bad you’ll be left with nothing but a ballooned house payment.

    but, of course nobody really pays attention to somebody in their mid twenties.

    So now i just joke with people about how I want to get paid in Gold and move to Spain.

  5. blockbustarhymes says:

    Not only did I predict this stuff happening, but I knew the Bills were going to go 4-0.

    I’m so smart it is actually physically painful.

    There, I am now as cool as the people above me.

  6. Ajh says:

    ….I wanted to get away from credit debt for 3 years. I knew something bad was going to happen…just knew it. I’ve thus far…kept even…

    family crisis and all…but that’s better than sliding worse into debt right?

  7. Fist-o™ says:

    Does every generation need some crisis to bring focus on the money issues? Hmm. Perhaps.

  8. Fist-o™ says:

    Is there such a thing as worrying TOO MUCH about money? It seems that now, my family is doing well, I worry 10x more than when I was ignorant of how stupid I was being! There’s always some issue to be taken care of or handled. Cars being bought or sold, ESA to establish, retirement fund picking, argh! I suppose it never ends.

  9. GothamGal says:

    Yes it has. A stranger just last night at the hotel that I am staying at in Texas for work, kindly told me that it’s those damn Democrats that caused all this. Then he asked me if I was a Republican or a Democrat. I smiled and told him that I had work to do and thanked him for the information.

  10. chauncy that billups says:

    Getting people to face their debts and deal properly with credit can only be a good thing. It’s something the Consumerist has been harping on for years. Recessions aren’t all bad, as long as we LEARN from them (a tall order, I know). I remember the ’91 recession, in that it didn’t seem like much to me at all. Of course, we were already poor back then, so perhaps other peoples’ recession was our every day.

  11. Areia says:

    My American friends and co-workers are suddenly much more interested in my European save-first-spend-later habits. They suddenly don’t seem like such weird foreign ideas anymore.

  12. shannanigans slash pterodactyl says:


    I just created a Mint account to keep track of my net worth and discretionary spending, plus used the Excel-based debt reduction calculator that I found on this site to figure out how to get out of my credit card and auto loan debt as quickly as possible.

    I’m also considering finding a financial planner to help me figure out how to get the most out of my 401k, which suffered a 23% hit this year (trying to remain calm and remind myself it’s a long-term investment).

    I should have done all this a while ago, but nothing like a little economic crisis and threats of a depression to get you thinking about your money!

  13. Lots more talk in the faculty lounge about it. I’m actually learning a lot from the history and economics people. I get to be the center of attention when there’s a question about how some legal framework works.

    My students have been asking a little more often. My classes don’t touch on economic stuff directly this semester, but they know I’m a lawyer so they’ve sometimes been asking for explanations, especially during before-class chatting.

  14. My wife and I realized that we needed to be “Debt Free” about 7 years ago after living the lifestyle we all love to hate. We took every Windfall that came our way, and every spare penny, and plugged the hole in our bank accounts that were our credit cards, and car payments.

    5 Years later we were 100% debt free. Some job changes, and a couple 3000+ mile moves, and we’re about 2.5K in with one credit card, and 500 with another with little savings. They’ll be paid off again SOON.

    Now we live within our means (most of the time … still working on that a little), and I’m finally able to start thinking about starting up my 401 K again. Yeah I know … BAD CONSUMER! … but things were rocky for awhile.

  15. stevejust says:

    Here’s a shocking truth: credit scores don’t mean all that much. Why are we in trouble? Because people with “good” credit scores were buying houses and cars they couldn’t afford. Then, they wanted a nicer, newer car. So they’d trade in their old car, and actually become upside down on their new car. And then their houses went down in value–which was a real bummer– because these same people had exotic Alt-A mortgages to begin with, and they were actually watching their principal increase. But hey, as long as they were making their loan payments, their credit remained good. Exotic negative amortization loans weren’t just for people considered “subprime.” Credit scores don’t predict anything as people increasingly take on debt that they can’t afford faster than the credit reports can deal with the changing debt to credit ratios. There’s not a single credit reporting company out of the three that has my employer listed correctly. It naturally follows that there’s not a single credit reporting company out there that actually knows my income.

    I’ve got a shocking thing to say. I know… this is going to sound crazy. WHAT ACTUALLY MATTERS IS HOW MUCH YOU EARN COMPARED TO HOW MUCH YOU SPEND.

    Banks are realizing this now as they come up 1.3 trillion dollars short and everyone’s shaking their heads like they couldn’t see this coming.

    Well, that blockbuster video store clerk couldn’t afford that $600,000 house. All those “$30k millionaires” driving their shiny leased 3-series convertibles couldn’t afford those cars either. But the economy was dependent on people spending more money than they earned. It was the only thing keeping most retailers in business.

    And there’s no way to legislate our way out of this problem. Spending has to slow. Car dealers have to go out of business. People who used to work at banks that are getting absorbed by bigger banks, or car dealers that are going empty can join the idle construction workers and mortgage brokers and real estate agents in the Home Depot parking lots waiting for odd jobs to come along. Who’s going to feed all those out of work people or take care of their kids is anyone’s guess. But hey, if Bladefist is around, he’ll tell you we’re not technically in a recession. So there.

  16. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot says:

    While everybody around me is telling me their credit lines are bieng slashed, their interest rates increasing, and their ability to use credit being restricted, I get a letter in the mail today from Mastercard telling me they’ve almost TRIPLED my limit! Not that it matters much – I have a very small balance I’ve been working on paying off, but I just find it strange. Are they increasing my limit in hopes of getting me to use my card more?

  17. sirellyn says:

    You know it would actually be nice if people started getting interested in how their money was created in the first place.

  18. Bahnburner says:

    I learned through the course of this debacle that there’s a difference between the “strength of the economy” and the strength of America. “The economy” doesn’t care how you’re doing, it doesn’t protect you. It won’t haul a fallen tree out of your front yard or coach your kid’s football team. No, the economy serves international masters who peddle low-wage crap as long as we keep buying it. My point is: Want a strong America and a strong future? become a financial zealot. Help educate and inform your friends and neighbors get out of debt, pay off their bills, fund their own retirements and you will most certainly have done your part to give to the next generation an America worth having. Can you imagine if everyone on their street did this? I can.

  19. jamesdenver says:

    I’ve been biking to work for six years because I enjoy it. And I prepare my own lunches on the weekend and eat at my desk 4/5 weekdays.

    Yes – I have gone from being a novelty to more ingenious.

  20. Corporate_guy says:

    Why is it that mortgages are sold between banks at a loss, but the home owner still has to pay the full amount?

  21. DoubleEcho says:

    Well, this whole credit crisis issue has made me aggressive on paying off my credit cards. I’ve been working overtime for the past 3 months, and by the end of October I will have paid off about $2500 in credit card debt, leaving my balance for both cards at a BIG FAT ZERO!

    After my car is paid off in January I’m going to start putting the amount of my car payment + my regular credit card payments right in my savings account; We’re in for some rainy days, and having some extra in the bank will be a good idea.

  22. cozynite says:

    Do you think there is a way for all of us consumers to present a class action lawsuit against all of the banks that put us into this black hole?