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Don't Buy Stuff You Cannot Afford:

I had never seen this Saturday Night Live sketch before--a revolutionary approach to dealing with the problem of household debt and credit cards, "Don't Buy Stuff You Cannot Afford."

Cornellian (mail):
Don't Buy Stuff You Cannot Afford

Sheesh, what kind of Commie sentiment is that? If reckless overspending is good enough for the federal government it should be good enough for the American people as well.
11.12.2007 12:56pm
TyrantLimaBean:
Don't Buy Stuff You Cannot Afford

Except law school, of course. Pay $50k a year (after living expenses) for that. Don't mind the six figure debt you'll acquire along the way - look at all those high paying jobs waiting for you!

(Please ignore the 70%+ attrition rate for those jobs.)

Enjoy your hellish years of indentured servitude!
11.12.2007 1:15pm
Anonymouseducator (mail) (www):
I think sometimes people take the decision to go to law school out of context. It's not as if people are leaving these great jobs to go to law school. It's replacing one terrible situation with another. At least it was for me.
11.12.2007 1:25pm
Another Cornellian (mail):
see also: http://youtube.com/watch?v=V7GnOyd_z1w
11.12.2007 1:48pm
Anderson (mail):
Don't Buy Stuff You Cannot Afford

Wouldn't *that* just bring the economy crashing down.
11.12.2007 1:59pm
Kevin Raley (mail):
I'm worried less about "the" economy crashing down than I am about my economy crashing down.
11.12.2007 2:19pm
Rich B. (mail):
If everyone waited until they had the cash on hand saved up to buy a house, there would be a whole lot of renters.
11.12.2007 2:44pm
Hoosier:
"Let's say I want to by something, but I don't have any money. Should I buy it anyway?"

Ha! Steve Martin has such a great feel for delivery.
11.12.2007 2:48pm
frankcross (mail):
That's a great motto:

"Law School: Exchanging One Terrible Situation with Another!"
11.12.2007 2:56pm
BruceM (mail) (www):
Buying stuff one can't afford is not only the basis of our economy, it's the basis of capitalism and the very foundation of America. If banks did not exist and nobody bought took out loans (which you do to buy things you cannot afford, typically a home or car), the world would be a vastly different place, for the worse.

The lesson shoudl be don't buy things on credit if you can't afford to make the payments.
11.12.2007 3:00pm
BruceM (mail) (www):
Oh, and also, nobody would go to college.
11.12.2007 3:01pm
DiversityHire:
In the same vein:
11.12.2007 3:09pm
DiversityHire:
In the same vein: Working at work
11.12.2007 3:10pm
HappyConservative:
Steve Martin rocks.

I did not think this particular sketch was that good. Alas, with SNL it is always hit or miss, mostly miss, but when there is a hit, it is really funny.
11.12.2007 3:16pm
Cornellian (mail):
Buying stuff one can't afford is not only the basis of our economy, it's the basis of capitalism and the very foundation of America. If banks did not exist and nobody bought took out loans (which you do to buy things you cannot afford, typically a home or car), the world would be a vastly different place, for the worse.

A home, unlike cars, computers etc at least has good potential to appreciate in value, such that buying one with borrowed money isn't always an economically bad proposition. It's more analogous to the economically sound proposition that starting a business with borrowed money is a good idea if you have a solid business plan that indicates you're likely to generate enough profit to make the loan payments, with something left over. You could make the same argument for taking out law school tuition loans, even if far too many prospective law students are overly optimistic about the kind of earnings a JD will enable.

I'm not convinced the world would be worse off if people bought only cars they could afford. So there would be a lot more eight year old, second-hand Toyotas on the road instead of 1 year old, leased BMW's. That would put strong downward pressure on car prices and might actually be good for consumers overall.
11.12.2007 3:27pm
HappyConservative:

A home, unlike cars, computers etc at least has good potential to appreciate in value, such that buying one with borrowed money isn't always an economically bad proposition.


A car can be every bit as much of an investment as a house. Taking public transportation in certain situations (i.e. you live in the suburbs, not NYC) may consume much more time than owning a car. Thus, owning a car would allow you to be productive and make more money, perhaps more than making up for the difference in price between public transportation and car ownership. It can even be said that buying a more expensive car is a rational move in certain industries (i.e. real estate) where you want to project an image of success, regardless of the underlying economic reality.

Likewise, a computer can be a huge productivity enhancer.

I would say that in many situations, a car and a computer are better investments than a house, notwithstanding the fact that the car and computer depreciate while a house will hopefully tend to appreciate over the long run.
11.12.2007 3:38pm
Oh My Word:
BruceM, ladies and gentlemen, to set the record straight.
11.12.2007 3:39pm
Owen Hutchins (mail):
Buying on credit when you can afford to pay your credit card bills, is buying stuff you can afford. A mortgage you can afford to pay is buying something you can afford, a mortgage you can't afford to pay isn't. You are forgetting that what credit is is buying a loan. If you can afford it, good. If not, not so good.
11.12.2007 3:43pm
American Psikhushka (mail) (www):
Let's see, I can come up with a couple:

Don't steal from (or defraud) someone unless you can afford to pay them back.

Don't sabotage someone's employment if you want your loan repaid.

Don't claim you got ahead through "hard work" and "merit" when it was due to a network and rent-seeking.

Don't commit crimes, torts, malpractice, and rights violations unless you can afford to pay the damages, compensation, restitution, etc.

Wow - I could go on all day. Maybe I should write some skits.
11.12.2007 4:03pm
Invisible Man (mail):
But Bush said that to defeat the terrorists we should be out shopping. What are you pro-Al Queda?
11.12.2007 4:17pm
WHOI Jacket:
It's nice to see Steve Martin doing something not involving groin kicks.......
11.12.2007 5:17pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
By the way, "stuff" includes children. Don't have children you can't afford.
11.12.2007 6:31pm
Tony Tutins (mail):
David M. N: how much does a child cost?

In law school I saw people spending money on going out, and on buying clothing. When you hand your credit card to the bartender on a Thursday night, and pick it up $100 later, you're going to run up a sizable monthly bill. I stuck to spending only the money I had in my pocket. A lot of the girls were into retail therapy: either shopping online during class, or hitting the mall wpth a gal pal after school.

It's not just the poor students who rack up the bills. When gas went up to $3.50, my neighbor's wife quit driving her Suburban, and bought a Lexus sedan. These are the people whose mother bought them their place to live. Their three cars are lined up across the driveway, their grills facing out. Every week the pool guy, the landscapers, and the maid service come. They're too tired to cook so they eat out all the time.
11.12.2007 6:47pm
HappyConservative:
Children are not "stuff." While timing children to financial position is sensible and pragmatic for those who would like to rise in the hierarchy, we shouldn't encourage the delay of child-bearing among the less ambitious. We certainly shouldn't equate it with personal irresponsibility.
11.12.2007 7:07pm
Public_Defender (mail):
For credit card issuers and their lackeys and lobbyists:

Don't lend money to people who can't afford to repay it and then go whine to Congress that those people can't afford to repay the money you lent them.
11.12.2007 7:52pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
(Please ignore the 70%+ attrition rate for those jobs.)

Please ignore the fact that only a small fraction of those who go to law school get to work for a big law firm, and often don't make enough money to pay back their debts. See the recent WSJ article on this issue.
11.12.2007 8:33pm
Greg Beck (mail) (www):
If you are a minimum wage employee, what you cannot afford is decent housing, food, and health care.
11.13.2007 11:22am
Cornellian (mail):
For credit card issuers and their lackeys and lobbyists:

Don't lend money to people who can't afford to repay it and then go whine to Congress that those people can't afford to repay the money you lent them.


And while you're at it, stop killing whole forests every year to bury me in letters telling me I'm "pre-approved" for yet another credit card.
11.13.2007 1:25pm
Brian Schmidt (mail) (www):
I'm looking forward to the sequel: Don't Get Seriously Sick or Injured If You Can't Afford It.

Brilliant stuff, I'm sure.
11.13.2007 3:26pm
Brian Schmidt (mail) (www):
Oh, I forgot the subtitle to the "Don't Get Seriously Sick" book. It says, "And Don't Think You Can Afford It If Your Health Insurance Has a Cost Cap Or a Percentage CoPay That Kicks In Above a Certain Amount"

Kind of a long subtitle, they should've shortened it in some way.
11.13.2007 3:33pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Ref. subprime mortgages:

Don't lend to people who haven't a prayer of paying you back.
11.14.2007 11:39am