Credit is good – it’s your ability to use someone else’s money to acquire items or services you don’t currently have the cash to pay for. For most of us, it’s how we acquire major items like cars and homes, as well as everyday things that make life easier and more pleasant.Debt is not a four letter word, it’s simply the outcome of using credit. It is over-indebtedness that is doing us in. Some debt is unavoidable given the cost of goods today. If you’re buying more than a clunker, a car loan is probably necessary. Very few of us could buy a house without a mortgage or send our children to school without student loans. It’s the wanting more and more and spending more and more that gets us in trouble.1. In the early 1900s, most people paid cash for purchases or ran a tab at a local store where they were known. Banks lent a small percentage on homes but cash was king. Credit was sparse and debt minimal. That picture changed little until the end of World War II when the country’s growth needed more credit to fuel expansion and growth.2. As the country prospered, our mindset seemed to change with the newfound prosperity. We collectively wanted bigger and better homes and cars as well as more convenience and luxury items. The 80s saw an unprecedented surge in the demand for goods and services. The sky was the limit and we simply didn’t want to wait for anything. The “I deserve it, and I deserve it now” society was in full swing. We were a country “high” on the concept of more is always better. We were willing to expand our credit horizons and take on more debt to get what we wanted3. Starting in the late 1990s, we lost all perspective of living within our means and the bubble finally burst. Our spending, greed and a love of the game landed us in the biggest economic disaster since the great depression. Well my fellow spenders, it’s time we learn how money works, how to use credit wisely, how to consolidate or eliminate our debt, and most importantly how to build a more secure and balanced future.Here’s some scary food for thought. Are these quotes funny or a sad reflection of the times?”We didn’t actually overspend our budget. The allocation simply fell short of our expenditure.” Keith Davis.”I’ve got all the money I’ll ever need if I die by four o’clock this afternoon.” Henry Youngman.”A bargain is something you can’t use at a price you can’t resist.” Franklin Jones.”You should always live within your income, even if you have to borrow to do so.” Josh Billings.”More and more these days I find myself pondering how to reconcile my net income with my gross habits.” John Nelson.”Anyone who lives within their means suffers from a lack of imagination.” Oscar Wilde.”It’s amazing how fast later comes when you buy now!” Milton Berle.”I don’t mind going back to daylight saving time. With inflation, the hour will be the only thing I’ve saved all year.” Victor Borge.”Be content with what you’ve got but be sure you have plenty.”To quote Albert Einstein: “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”It’s clear we need to change our thinking and get back to basics, and some encouraging attitude adjustments are beginning to surface. People are talking more openly about their debt and actively looking for money management tools. History has shown that when our mindset changes so does our behavior. As we rediscover financial responsibility it will change our actions and the prosperity of the country.