It wasn't so long ago that you could go to college, get a job, buy a house and a car and live the "American Dream." What happened?
I grew up in a family where our father worked as a school teacher and our mother was a stay at home mom. Having one parent work and one stay home wasn't unusual in the 60's 70's and even 80's. When you look at it now it really wasn't that complicated. In fact, it was rather simple.
School teachers have never made a lot of money (trust me) and back then was no different. But somehow it all worked. Even in a one income home we managed to take vacations every year going to Disney World, driving across the country to California, or just hitting the beach. We had new cars when we needed them and my parents managed to put all four of us through college.
There are certainly many factors that have contributed to the recession, but we may have the recession to thank for shining the spotlight on what is really ailing family, government and business budgets: Credit!
When we want something nowadays and we don't have the money, we pull out the plastic. When governments don't have the money for something, they spend it anyway. Businesses over extend themselves knowing banks will be there to lend them money and they'll just keep adding it to their debt and hope to eventually pay if off, or borrow more to do it.
That house of cards has now collapsed. People, governments and businesses that have used credit as a means to live are now finding out how flawed that thinking is. Sure, credit is necessary for things like buying automobiles, houses, college, and perhaps a few other necessities. But lets admit it, many of us, me included, have probably borrowed money or used credit cards when we really shouldn't have.
While my dad was a teacher...I think it was the lessons he taught out of school that were the most important. "It's not what you make, it's what you spend and don't spend it if you don't have it."
That simple advice worked in a one income family years ago and just might be what's needed to get us, our government and ailing businesses back on track.