One Share of US National Debt

This is a guest post by IWBNIN team member, Mark Asbell.

It is very frustrating to see the US National Debt total consistently going up up and up with little to no plan for ever being able to fix it.  When Joe updated everyone in March about the new total US National Debt, I caught myself in the middle of a very disturbing thought and emotion.

It isn’t difficult to understand that the number is going up up and up, but the number is SO LARGE I can’t even begin to really comprehend it.  Throw all the analogies my way about how it would take so many hundred dollar bills that it would fill up the ocean or whatever – I still can’t really wrap my mind around $14,000,000,000,000 (trillion).

In March Joe posted how much $14 trillion translates for each of us as individuals if we all split it evenly.  The number is over $46,000 per person in the US.  I can understand $46,000, in fact I had heard a number like that before.  When I read that my portion of the bill was only $46,000 I caught myself literally thinking “my part hasn’t gone up that much since the last time I heard that number”, and I felt as though it wasn’t so bad.  That is a ridiculous thought to have, and it reminded me of a tragic flaw in the thought process I once had with my own personal finances.

For several years, my wife and I racked up a horrible amount of debt.  I never dreamed we would ever get behind on bills but we did.   As I think back on those times, I realize part of the problem was I would get a credit card bill, see the balance going up by large amounts and think “dang”.  But then I would see the minimum payment only go up a little bitty bit and I would think, “I can handle that for now and pay it off later.”  Fast forward a year or two – the same credit card balance was still going up and the minimum payment was eventually getting beyond my means.  I eventually had to reach a breaking point to turn things around.

My family almost lost everything when we hit our breaking point.  It doesn’t have to be that way for our personal finances OR our national finances.  We should be more concerned with what the OVERALL TOTAL US Debt is and take it VERY seriously that our share is going up a little bit more every day.  How long will it take for us to view that number as beyond our means?  What is the breaking point going to be for our Nation?

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  1. Travis on April 18, 2011 at 3:23 pm

    Great post Mark! We the people need to learn that the amount of the payment is NOT the only “cost”.

  2. Mark on April 19, 2011 at 5:30 am

    Thanks Travis! We the people should start considering our kids and grandkids too. Having 3 kids of my own I feel responsible to carry their part of the national debt too. Throw in my wifes share because she is a full time mom and homeschool teacher and that makes my total over $230,000 for my family of five. That won’t work for my family and I don’t think it will work for most others. It’s time for us to all realize that.

  3. Jon Smock on April 19, 2011 at 7:07 am

    Excellent post. I had the exact same thought when I saw the $46,000 number. Shame on me!

  4. Mark on April 19, 2011 at 7:16 am

    Thanks Jon!

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