Stuff your stocking with financial know-how
You have to love Black Friday. A day after humbly giving thanks for our countless blessings, we officially kick off a season of goodwill toward our fellow man by knocking our fellow man out of the way in a mad sprint to the electronics aisle.
Actually, "love" might not be the word I'm looking for.
That obscene irony aside, there's another reason why I don't care much for Black Friday, especially this year: It's the implied message that all will be right with our economic world if American consumers will just spend as much as we possibly can -- and, preferably, even more.
Here we are, desperately trying to climb our way out of a recession brought on, in part, by the fact that we bought lots of stuff we couldn't possibly afford, and we're being told that we might be able to turn things around by buying lots of stuff we can't possibly afford.
Sure, a healthy exchange of goods and services is key to our economy. But so, too, is household debt. Right now, it's way too high. We've borrowed way too much money recently to subsidize lifestyles that we can't afford, and if we don't rein in that debt, we run the risk of repeating this crisis.
One of the happier consequences of the recession is that Americans are saving more money. Let's not blow that momentum now. We can use this crisis as an opportunity to teach valuable lessons in financial literacy and personal responsibility.
It appears as though those lessons are beginning to take hold. According to The Washington Post, Black Friday shoppers are more willing this year to leave a store empty-handed if they don't get the deal they want.
What that means for our economy, I'm not sure. But I believe it's a good sign on the financial literacy front.