The willingness of credit card companies and stores to offer easy to obtain credit to people who should not be buying anything on which they will have to pay 18+% interest, trapping unsophisticated people into a life-long cycle of debt and economic worry, is another abomination that requires closer scrutiny. Yes, there are some things which people of low or middle income cannot purchase without credit, such as a car, or a house to have a secure roof over their heads. However, there is a vast divide between “need” and “want”. Exploiting this divide is the expertise of the people who create advertising. Does anyone really need a $5 cup of latte? Or a $200 pair of athletic shoes? (Remember when they came in black or white, and were called ‘sneakers’?) “Buy today with no money down, and no payment for 6 months!” blares the TV. It only neglects to tell you that you will pay twice the price over time for the product versus having bought it outright.
Studies have shown that people, on average, will spend 20% more in a store that offers credit card purchases than in one that requires cash. The need to reach inside your wallet and peel off some bills for a purchase makes some people pause and ask, “Do I really need this gismo enough to spend two hours of my work salary to buy it?” That 20% number becomes even higher when you don’t even need a credit card, just a tap of your phone. Our country’s economy has become addicted to people spending more money than they can reasonably afford. Advertising drives the feeling of need for more. Easy credit greases the skids that lands its users in the dumps; figuratively as well as literally. It also leaves those who have attained more wondering, “How is it that I’m still not happy?”