If you’re not a savvy, educated or strategic borrower, watch out. The slew of credit products disguised to not even look like credit products are unbelievable. On today’s show, Merrill Chandler does a deep dive into these consumer trends and shares some ways on how to fix them. It pays to be better informed than to get the rug pulled out from underneath us. Tune in to avoid these credit traps and escape from more financial harm.
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3 Consumer Trends The Smartest Strategic Borrowers Avoid
In this episode, I’m going on a rant. It is a strategic and deliberate rant about all of the forces that are coming to you. If you are not an educated borrower, a savvy borrower, or a strategic borrower, the types of credit products that are coming out here are disguised to not even look like credit products. They’re going to pull the rug out from underneath us and cause us more financial harm. We’ll do a deep dive into what’s going on out there and how we can fix it.
There’s a sad state of affairs going on right now, when it comes to consumerism, lack of borrower finesse and sophistication. Because of that, we’re getting predated upon. We’re susceptible to predators. We’re talking about how do we train ourselves, how do we become aware of what traditional consumerism is that many of us have been raised with and has been amplified and exacerbated by COVID and the sequestering we’ve gone through. Let’s get started on this. First of all, when I say consumerism, I’m saying debt spending because if there was no debt whatsoever and we all had to live off of our income, then most of us would be a little more careful about how we spend.
There wouldn’t necessarily be as much impulse buying because there is no way to say, “I’ll pay for it next week or next month.” When I was growing up, there was a cartoon, Popeye the Sailor Man. One of the characters will always say, “Excuse me, sir, can I purchase a burger today, which I’ll be glad to pay for Tuesday?” That whole buy now pay later has been ingrained into us for generations. I come from a Baby Boomer generation.If there was no debt whatsoever and we all had to live off of our income, then most of us would be a little more careful about how we spend. Click To Tweet
Our parents and grandparents who fought in the two World Wars were Depression children. They had a strict policy about debt spending, but as we moved into more prosperous times, post-war, the ‘60s and the ‘70s and the expansion of American influence at home and abroad, everything became more debt spending, both macro, the local states and federal governments, and individually.
I can’t tell you which came first, the chicken or the egg or consumer spending, do we set the pace for it? Our city state and federal governments all spend in kind, or does it start at the top? Wherever there’s a great deal of spending in the macro world, in the national economy, does that give us permission as consumers to get more credit, raise our limits and our balances on those new limits and spend? I’ve spoken in little bits and pieces over the era of COVID, but I want to literally dial in tightly what it means to be a consumer borrower versus a strategic borrower. There’s a way to borrow money that strategically improves your standard of living and quality of life without unnecessary debt.
The fellow preachers in this space, David Ramsey, Dave is all about no debt whatsoever for any reason, but also it takes so much longer to purchase a car or a house, or be able to get some of the larger quality of life items that we would want as our incomes to improve and as our job placement and jobs grow. We want to make sure that we are conscious of our debt spending.
I have a simple definition. If I can borrow money to save money or make money, then I look on a spreadsheet to compare the returns because you can borrow money to save money, and you can borrow money to earn money or leverage other people’s money for financial growth. If I’m buying it to get something that maybe I don’t even need or require for a higher quality of life, then is that strategic debt?
COVID steps in and two things happen. Nationally, we start spending stimulus packages. We start spending to keep the economy going. I’m not weighing in on whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing. I’m saying that there was more money put into the system to keep the economy going while unemployment skyrocketed, while mortgage and rent moratoriums are going on, even auto payments and credit card payments, moratoriums are going on because of this shutdown, closedown. Twenty percent of the hospitality industry literally closes overnight. That’s happened nationally. We closed down as well. I did report that people were using stimulus checks savings to get out of debt. There was this massive movement to pay down current debt.
That lasted for a quarter and a half and is now blown up again, where there we hit new highs. I reported in one of our Facebook Lives, we hit $15 trillion in consumer debt, a brand new high. Consumer debt also includes mortgages, there is a portion of that, but our credit card spending is going out of control. To exacerbate or augment this problem, COVID brought us all indoors. We’re not going out to eat and going to the movies. We start spending on Netflix or other packages. We start ordering from Amazon or other online providers to help us nest or improve what’s going on in our homes. Many of us are Uber Eating and DoorDashing.We feel happy when our values are fulfilled. If we change our values, then our happiness framework changes as well. Click To Tweet
I added 30 pounds because I started eating at home instead of going to the grocery store, buying food and making it myself. There’s this massive amount of debt being incurred because we want to improve our lives. Because we’re not out in the world, we’re not socializing as much, our social feedback has come, especially for our younger generations, Millennials, Gen Z. There’s been a huge uptick in social use. The Instagrams and the Facebooks and the TikToks. TikTok blew up in COVID era alone.
Everybody is looking at the world from their phone instead of out in the three-dimensional world. As a result, our sense of self, our feedback, our self-worth are based on what we see others doing on their social media. There’s been a dramatic increase in purchasing of the things that the influencers are promoting because, “I want self-esteem. I want a better self-worth. I want to create more. I want to be one of the cool kids.” That’s 35, 45 and 55-year-olds.
We spend money less deliberately, or our values have shifted and we’re buying to fulfill those values. I’ve preached this over and over and over again, happiness. We feel happy when our values are fulfilled. If we change our values, then our happiness framework changes as well. You are happy when you are fulfilling your values. If you love the feeling of working out and the results on your body and your health for working out and you don’t work out, it’s likely you’re not as happy. Sometimes you can even get depressed. When you are working out, you’re fulfilling your values of looking good, feeling good, eating well and doing exercising.
As a result, the value is fulfilled and you feel happy. We shift that value to online personalities and influencers. Now, we’re only happy if we look like they look, if we are doing what they are doing. As a result, our value shift. To be happy, we have to fulfill those values. One of the thing that has happened in COVID is that we all started sheltering in place and rearranging what our lives look like, both our families, as individuals, as couples, as communities. Marketers started marketing to us at home. I used to do monthly events around the country and now here we are, I do Zoom events. My tribe is literally in my studio with me on Zoom and on Facebook.
The portal to the real world was through the computer, our phones and other screens. Let’s bracket that, hold that to the side. Let’s look at the Gen Z, the Millennials, and even the last latter end of the Baby Boomers, financial literacy sucks in this country. Financial literacy, in high school it’s usually at most. You have four years with 2 to 3 semesters as part of your year, depending on how your school works. One of those semesters on one year is about financial literacy when that is the thing that is going to help us not just survive but thrive in the world. Financial literacy is what a checking account is. What is a savings account?
What’s interesting is that every financial literacy course I have looked at is the equivalent of do not get into debt. Credit cards are bad. Don’t use credit cards, only use a debit card only. Everything is anti-debt. That would be fine if we were in a completely different type of society. Some 30% to 40% of those students are going to end up in a business of their own at some point in their future lives. 30% to 40% are going to want to have some entrepreneurial endeavor. It’s probably higher now.Everybody is looking at the world from their phones instead of out in the three-dimensional world. As a result, our sense of self, feedback, and self-worth are based on what we see others doing on social media. Click To Tweet
Those are the numbers of the last several years. It’s higher now because we’re all used to working from home, many of us. Children are seeing their parents work from home. Aunts and uncles are working from home and the nephews and nieces all see that life can work from home. They want to know, “I want to grow my standard of living and quality of life and it can be done from home, usually through some entrepreneurial endeavor.” Now they have no education.
They don’t know how to leverage money. You got to end up going to one of these wealth strategy classes, real estate investing, note buying, online businesses. There are dozens of them out there, but those individuals usually teach myths and misrepresent the credit and funding truth to support their own agenda. There isn’t an objective borrower education out there until now. That’s why you’re on this show.
Whether this is your first 1 or you’ve binged all 150 before it, the reason why we’re here is because we must know what it takes to be a strategic borrower. It is unlikely that we can Dave Ramsey our way to wealth and high-level finances because that is about protecting yourself from debt rather than learning what debt truly is, what strategic debt is, what foolish consumer that is, knowing how to separate the two and then create a life that leverages other people’s money.
Buy Now Pay Later
To add insult to injury, it’s like we’re in a frenzy of borrowing. The most recent predatory type of loans are what are called buy now pay later. They’ve been around for decades. You used to be able to go to a furniture store and they say, “Ninety days, same as cash. Buy it now. Engage a contract. No interest.” If you pay it off in 90 days, some furniture stores went six months.
Some went as far as a year. Waterbed storages used to go for a full year. “We’ll carry you for a year interest free. You pay it off, no interest to you.” They’re getting into Buy Now Pay Later, BNPL is what is being known in the media where banks are now putting buy now pay later software as part of their software offering in their online portals for clients and their customers.
What happens is you can now go up to so many places. It isn’t furniture stores anymore. It’s Lululemon and Target and straight retail locations and say, instead of giving them a credit card, it’s buy now pay later, which means that you still have your balances on your credit cards. You’re not increasing those, but you get up to 4 to 6 months of payments where there’s no interest. This would be great if every borrower in America knew the difference between consumer debt and strategic debt, but we don’t. We don’t have a massive body of educated borrowers. Buy now pay later, think of it this way, when you put it on a credit card, you’re paying a whole grip of interest.
Ninety six percent of every payment is interest, but it’s a small affordable one that we can tell ourselves that we’re going to pay this over time, 2 or 3 years. A $10,000 credit card at 18.5%, 19% interest with the minimum payments can last 10 to 15 years before it’s paid off to 0 when you make the minimum payments. The problem with buy now pay later is that if you buy something for $1,000, it’s four payments of $250. Two hundred fifty dollars times four payments. The question is, “I can afford $250 because it’s interest free.” We’re being led debt to the slaughter by interest free and we were going to owe $250 a month for two months.
Some of us can’t straight afford it, but because we’ve been led to believe, we’ve been trained, the ignorant have been teaching the naive or the manipulators have been teaching the naive, they’re saying, “Interest free is awesome.” Where else is this true? People are like, “I got a credit card and I can use the credit card interest free,” but they don’t remember, they weren’t taught until here, you binged it with me, that when you charge up a credit card, you may not be paying interest, but you’re ruining your personal credit profile with high balances, straight up ruining it, but it’s interest free.
That’s where the lack of awareness and education is for the vast majority of borrowers. Everybody who’s outside of my tribe thinks that interest free is awesome. We’re going to end up interest free. I don’t like paying interest at all, but I’m willing to pay interest if they’re charging me 5% to 6% and I’m making 15% to 16% or even 8% to 9%. That’s arbitrage. That’s how the big boys and the big girls make their money. That’s smart borrowing, but to be able to say, “It’s interest free, four payments of $250,” and then I am hamstringing. I am tying the news on my financial capacity to pay.
This episode is all about the soapbox. In every possible way, we need to be clear and teach our children. People ask, “Where do I find this borrower education? How do I educate my children? How do I become a strategic borrower, not a consumer?” If you haven’t gotten it already, make sure you get a copy of The New F* Word. It’s a national bestseller.
It goes through in seventeen chapters and covers the framework of strategic borrowing, what is being measured, how it’s being measured, what FICO and lender software count as good and what they count as bad so that we can start shaping our personal education and not be susceptible to buy now pay later and the personal credit profile crushing temptations of zero interest on our personal credit profiles.
Have at it by doing a zero interest on business credit profiles, but to learn all this, GetFundableBook.com, you guys. If you want the go-to, the quintessential strategic borrower education and business borrower education, it is the summit of all things’ strategic borrower, go to GetFundableBootcamp.com.
You’re going to see the different ticket prices. It’s crazy and expensive, but go read the reviews. If you’re scrolling, there’s got to be 10 feet of reviews of people like you, who have gone to this boot camp and said, “Why wasn’t this taught to me in high school? Why wasn’t this taught to me in college?” It’s available now, and it will change your life.
I acknowledge this one sounds like a pitch for the bootcamp for the book, but guys, borrower education. You got to learn the rules of this game, or you’re going to be stuck over some new buy now pay later and our previous programming is going to pull the rug out from underneath your finances. We’re going to be more stuck than we were before these programs came out. Banking is changing. These online banks, what are called neo banks, Chase, Wells, Citi, BB&T, PNC have rules of engagement where we can leverage their money to grow our lives and our businesses. Neo banks are coming in and are literally abusing. It’s more of the tier fours.
For those of you who’ve been bingeing or you’ve been to the bootcamp, it’s the tier four institutions, the finance companies, the ones that FICO downgrades, FICO hates, lender software hates, but there are more banks coming online because they want to give you money because they hypothecate that money. They create the money. For every $1,000 you borrow, they have $100 on the line. If you want to know more about that, GetFundableBook.com, GetFundablePodcast.com. If you want the center of our Fundable universe, GetFundable.com. Guys, if you haven’t been read the book, read the book.
If you haven’t been to the bootcamp, I’m so frustrated with predatory banks, lenders, and financial institutions, who are literally taking advantage of us and introducing new and exciting ways to finance that’s literally going to trip us up more. I have your back. I want you to have strategic debt. I want you to be a true, powerful business borrower to advance your lives and your goals.
Like, love, pass along, review, share, let people know what’s going on out there so we can protect our loved ones and our associates and let people know what game is being played against us. Unless we up our game, we’re going to keep getting dunked on. We need the all-star education. Right now, we’re playing or playing pick-up ball at the rec center. Please, let’s do this together. Let’s keep this fundability movement going.