Consuming on Credit


Nothing, it seems, can curb Americans’ voracious appetite for materialism—not even massive amounts of personal debt. According to the June 28 U.S. News & World Report, “… Americans shell out more for garbage bags than 90 of the world’s 210 countries spend for everything. Indeed, America has double the number of shopping malls as it does high schools.” Whereas most families owned one car in 1950, the article noted, in 2001, “nearly 1 in 5 families owned three cars or more.”

And it’s not just the amount—it’s the size. The average American car weighs about 4,000 pounds—up from 3,200 in 1981. The size of our homes, on average, ballooned from 983 square feet in 1950 to 2,329 today.

Meanwhile, the average American family owes $8,400 in credit card debt. That doesn’t include mortgages, car loans, etc.—only credit cards. All totaled, Americans are $500 billion in debt because of credit card purchases.