“¿Cuantas cuotas?” The first time I was asked that question I understood the literal meaning of the words, but not the context.

I was asked that same question at the end of nearly every financial transaction—at the grocery store, the department store, fast food restraunt, etc.—I made while we lived in Antofagasta, Chile.

One day after work, I ran by to place our usual order (2 Cajitas Feliz con nuggets, 2 hambuguesas estilo plain queso, 2 papas frita tamaño regular y una porción de empanadas) at the McDonalds near Playa Balneario and there I heard that familiar question once again.

“¿Cuantas cuotas?” the girl taking my order asked, but this time it clicked. What they were really asking me was “How many payments would you like to make?”

McDonalds Playa Balneario Anofagasta Chile.png
Photo via my flickr

I was shocked by my discovery. Was there anyone out there in all of Chile who would really buy a hamburger and eat it today only to make monthly payments on it for 2-6 months at 24.99% interest? The answer, sadly, was yes.

Some out there might be tempted to pass judgement on their less fortunate South American neighbors. However, are we really any different?

To quote Dave Ramsey, “We buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like” (from The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness).

How many of us are living from paycheck to paycheck and yet have no problem going into debt to finance a new widescreen TV, an over-priced designer handbag, or the latest and greatest gadget to come out of Cuppertino?

I call this phenomenon “Wimpynomics” after Popeye‘s voracious sidekick, J. Wellington Wimpy who was ever eager to eat today and pay later never.

J. Wellington Wimpy
Photo via Popeye.com

“I would gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.”
– Wimpy

We are constantly barraged by marketers Online, on the TV, at the movies, on the radio, in videogames, in magazines, etc. that it’s hard not to get caught up in it. During the recent economic downturn, our own President of the United States has continually encouraged Americans spend instead of save.

The best solution to the problem of Wimpynomics is for us to simply live within our means, or in other words, spend less than you bring home. We might also benefit by following the advice of our pioneer forbears. “Fix it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without” (as quoted by Gordon B. Hinckley).

Are you in the throes Wimpynomics? It’s hard not to get caught up in it. What advice would you give for someone extricate themself from this mess? Sound off in the comments below.

This post was featured on MormonDaddyBlogs on April 16, 2011!


5 thoughts on “Wimpynomics

  1. Theresa

    I don’t finance purchases or have credit cards but our financial situation is tight. I think one of the biggest questions people should ask themselves is want or need? Food, shelter, basic clothing…to me to are needs. The designer clothes, latest electronic gadgets, etc are wants. I can’t imagine financing a fast food meal but I’m amazed how frequently the offer is there. Interesting post!

  2. AustinDM

    J. Golden Kimball said “Live within your means. Live within your means, dammit, even if you have to borrow to do so, live within your means!

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