3 Quick Tips for Experiencing the Fool’s American Dream

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I listened patiently as she wept on the phone.

Once she regained her composure, she managed to feebly say, “I just want to be like everyone else.” 


Moments later, she continued, “I don’t owe a single penny to a credit card company, I have money in the bank, and I don’t even have a car payment!”

In my most loving and pastoral tone, I encouraged her to ‘tell me a little more about that.’

Bravely, she continued, “I sleep well at night.  There’s no worry, stress, or pressure these days.  I can’t remember the last time I woke up in a cold sweat.  When there are special needs at my church, I’m always in a position to help.“

After a few short moments, we ended the conversation because she was too grief stricken to continue. 

I felt sorry for this lovely woman because who, after all, doesn’t want it all?  This poor woman has been robbed of the opportunity to live the American dream.

Don’t you want it all too?

A rewards credit card that you got when your son was born.  Now, on his eighteenth birthday, you can give him a $25 gift card to Hobby Lobby (all the other ones were sold out).  Amazingly, this card only comes with a low 27.56% interest rate.  But, the best part of all is that each year they send you a Christmas card.

A hefty student loan.  You figure that if you take your degree in social services and work as a brain surgeon then it will only take about half your income to get it paid off by your 25th college reunion.

A car loan that is larger than the average cost of a house five years ago.  Did you hear that they’re coming out with a new 20 year car loan?  It’s amazing.  First, you can roll the amount owed on a previous car into your new car purchase.  Then, for the first two years, you only pay the interest.  After that, the payments for the next 18 years are only a mere $1,000 per month.  But, you want to know the best part?  When you pull up into the church parking lot, one of the other members will give you a nod and say “nice car.”

And then there’s the best part of all – the aneurism from the stress.  A few times each evening, a loving and friendly representative from a debt collections company will call you on the phone.  That way if your kids are all out of the house and your spouse is traveling for business, you’ll have someone to talk to.  They’ll threaten to sue you and throw you in jail.  After an evening of phone calls, you can curl up in your bed and stare hopelessly at the roof until you cry yourself to sleep.

Don’t you want it all?  I know I do.

But let me be frank.  While this might seem like a difficult dream to achieve, it is really quite simple.  Here’s a fool’s guide to living the American dream.

1.  Use the word need as frequently as possible.

For example, don’t say “I bought my kid a cell phone.”  Instead, say “My kid needs a cell phone.”

A mother goes down to the local store to spend $50 a month on a cell phone for her precious little boy who is getting ready for kindergarten.  While this may, at first glance, appear to be a luxury purchase, let me assure you that it is not.

Despite the fact that even as early as ten years ago few 18 year olds had a cell phone, it is most definitely important for five year olds to have their own phone.

Five year old children are typically away from home from an adult for an average of 80 seconds per day.  Who knows what could accost them at any given moment? 

A mother who loves her children knows that her kids (all of them, ages two and up) need a cell phone.

2.  Use the power of the human brain to rationalize every purchase.

Buying a new iPad2 initially seemed like an unnecessary expense.  However, when you really think about it, who wants to walk up a flight of stairs to check email?  Besides, it would be great to have it with you when you go to the doctor for your annual check up.  Since the latest iPads have a built in webcam, you wouldn’t need to worry about buying a replacement webcam on your desktop if it broke.  I’ve heard that those things can run up to $15. 

But the rationalization that finally convinces you is this – if you had an iPad2, you could do  your budget every night before going to bed since the iPad2 is right there. 

A few moments later, the truth hits you – because it will help you keep your budget, buying an iPad2 actually saves you money.

In the end, you conclude that it makes sense to go ahead and get an iPhone too.

3.  Ignore the eternal perspective.

Why invest in eternal things when you can invest in something that lasts but a moment?

Enough said.

Don’t you want it all too?

** Just in case you didn’t realize, this post is sarcasm laden, and I don’t actually suggest doing any of these things.  Instead, I just needed to remind us how silly we can all sound sometimes.


  1. says

    I know people that are struggling financially, yet would opt for financing a replacement vehicle at $400+/mo. rather than spend $1,500 to rebuild a transmission. “It’s going to start costing a lot to maintain this car.” Sadly, they can’t see that they will definitely be spending at least $4,800 per year to avoid maintenance expenses that they don’t even know for sure will happen.

    • says

      As logically people we (humanity) certainly make our fair share of financial decisions that make no sense! The mind has an amazing rationalization ability.
      I agree with Larry Burkett who said that the cheapest vehicle is almost always the one you’re currently driving right now.

  2. says

    Excellent post! Wow, very eye-opening. Isn’t it incredible how much money we waste on such ridiculous items? Recently, my family has undergone a serious money makeover and I think we have all truly benefited and become much closer. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the day to day and forget what is truly important. I would much rather be financially independent, stress free and spending quality time with my family and driving an old clunker of a car than hopelessly in debt and driving a Porsche. Thanks for this very enlightening post.

  3. says

    I get the sarcasm. But I don’t get where the women from the intro fits in. She’s NOT in debt. Why was she grief-stricken?

    • says

      The irony with the woman is that no one who is debt free would possibly want to be in debt. So, the question is why do so many of us get into debt trying to pursue something that no one really wants?

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