f. Consumerism almost synonyms with living beyond one's means
Often people cannot purchase outright what is advertised to them and resort to
alternate means to acquire things. The 'buy now, pay later' concept allures many
into falling in credit card debt or buying on installments. The various forms of
lending people money on interest is a multi-million dollar industry in itself
and works in unison with the advertising industry to fuel consumerism.
Furthermore, when it comes to misleading advertising, credit companies are
perhaps, the worst offenders, they promise you an easy life, but, in reality,
seek to entrap you in a web of debt that would take many anxious years to get
Debt due to overcharging credit cards is a matter of global concern, and now
there are many consumer advocacy groups and social organizations working to
educate the people on the responsible use of credit cards and ways to avoid
falling into debt. In India, a person with credit card debt may end up paying a
whopping rate of over 36%-40% per year in interest.
A survey conducted on 8,000 debt case by the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) in the
UK revealed that the amount owed by debtors was £10,700 - roughly 14 times their
average monthly income of £800.
The survey concluded that one of the main triggers for debt problems for people
on low pay was a change in circumstances, such as a period of ill health or a
relationship breakdown. One-quarter of those surveyed were receiving treatment
for stress, depression and anxiety, with money worries making matters worse in
most cases. The CAB added that it was worried that in nearly half the cases it
handled, those in debt tried to get out of difficulty by borrowing more money.
The level of credit commitments for many seeking advice from CAB was such that
it only took a 10% drop in earnings for people in debt to suffer real hardship
and be unable to keep up repayments. [Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/3043667.stm]
For those caught up in the spiral of credit card debt, there are the loan
companies that offer a tempting 'quick-fix' solution to debt - you take out one
loan to cover all your existing repayments. This is, however, highly undesirable
as loan companies charge a much higher interest rate and give you 'secured'
loans, meaning a person could loose his home upon non-payment.
Therefore, in every case, living beyond one’s means leads to debt and thereby to
life's many struggles and considerable unhappiness. It often creates stress that
ruins relationships, careers and one's health. Paying off a debt often results
in regrettable decisions. It consumes a lot of energy and diverts one's
attention from one's life. There is something about being in debt that casts a
pall over one's life and there is something about having no debt that is
freeing, calming and invigorating.
= If you can't afford it, don't buy it; don't be lured into buying something
because you can get it on installments.
= Use non-interest debit cards instead. Credit cards charge interest and
sometimes have annual fees. Debit or check cards have neither, and deduct funds
directly from one's account. You will be saved from falling into debt and will
easily know where you stand.
Note: In Islam, dealing in Interest (Riba) is Haraam, and what is mentioned
above is all the more reason to stay away from this major sin. Insha'Allah, in
the future we could publish more on Riba and Islamic Economic Teachings.