In 2001 when George W. Bush took office, the national debt was $5.7 trillion. In his eight years as President, Congress managed to increase that debt to roughly $9.8 trillion. I say roughly because is depends on the date you reference – what’s a few tenths of a trillion dollars when it’s increasing that fast anyway? Well you can bet Democrats were screaming about the irresponsible spending that took place during the Bush years. To be sure, that’s a frightening number and a HUGE increase in debt.
But did you know that in the less than two years since, we’ve added another $4 trillion to the list? That’s right – the national debt now stands at $13 TRILLION and counting. Holy cow that’s a lot of spending. That’s 13 thousand billion dollars. And don’t forget that a billion dollars is a thousand million dollars. If that doesn’t blow your mind, let me reiterate that the huge, $4 trillion increase in debt during the eight year Bush administration has now been repeated in less than two years under President Obama and the current members of Congress.
Now, I’m not about to get into the finger-pointing game our politicians are playing with our national debt. Quite frankly, I’m tired of the whole group not taking responsibility for the out of control spending. Every one of them can list a million reasons our national debt is the other party’s fault, but none of them have accepted the fact that they collectively as members of Congress are the very group that can and should fix it. What do they do instead? Continue to blame others and use that as a reason to keep spending.
If you’ve got a problem with debt (I define a debt problem as having any debt besides a reasonable mortgage) don’t take your cues from our government. There are two ways to improve your financial situation. You can increase your income or you can decrease your spending. Most of the time you need to do both. Don’t spend more and use the excuse of “the bad economy” to make yourself feel better about the spending. Learn the difference between needs and wants. Protect your needs and say no to wants to free up cash. Use the extra cash to pay down debt or save for emergencies. I know you aren’t faced with the national debt, but the process is the same. Yes, it really can be that simple. I just wish Congress could grasp such an easy concept!
Matt Wegner is a personal finance, career, small business and leadership coach focused on teaching his clients the tools for L.I.F.E. (Living In Financial Excellence). Request a free planning session to see how Matt can help you live debt free and control your spending or visit financialexcellence.net.