This article is by staff writer Jeffrey Steele.
Personal finance gurus have long warned that we Americans have a nasty problem. We spend too much and save too little. Not only do we not look for the best savings accounts, or check on savings account rates, or seek high interest savings accounts, many of us don’t save at all.
But these big thinkers have struggled to come up with a one-word explanation for that miserable mismatch.
Pittsburgh-based Gene Natale, co-author with Matt Kabala of “The Missing Semester,” a book aimed at giving teens and young adults lessons in money management, has managed to put his finger on the one buzzword that explains why a nation once comprised of good little savers now turns out lots of debtors.
Before I divulge that one word, however, let me ask this: Is it sheer coincidence that during the same period that saw Americans junk the notion of saving, we as a nation became junkies of fast food?
Is there more than a serendipitous link between the assumption of debt and the consumption of burgers, onion rings, chicken nuggets, chalupas and sandwiches filled with paper-thin slices of faux roast beef?
And is it just a fluke that the only thing ballooning faster over the last few years than our pile of bills has been our waistlines, inflated by the unshakeable habit of grabbing our fast food fixes at the nearest drive-up window?
I don’t think any of these phenomena are mere happenstance. Inexpens