“Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to Me and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.”  Isaiah 55:2

There is a disease that haunts the lives of many Americans – an underreported disease affecting millions of individuals, couples and households.  While the symptoms are easy to detect if you know what to look for, this curious sickness is as common as the cold and viewed with as little seriousness.  That said, leading researchers have labeled this highly contagious condition – MMPS – or Minimum Monthly Payment Syndrome – and have suggested that is a leading factor in the declining spiritual, physical and economic health of American households.  

Courtesy of the Council for Common Sense, CatholicPF has obtained a previously unreleased copy of common symptoms associated with MMPS (the mainstream media has a vested interested in the continued and rampant spread of MMPS as it supports the agenda of mismanaged big banks, out of control government spending, and interest group financed politicians): 

  • Those suffering from MMPS open their monthly bills and ignore all other information aside from the box labeled “Minimum Monthly Payment”.  Regardless of available funds or ability to pay more, MMPS sufferers, like moths to the flame, succumb to the allure of that box.  
  • Households suffering from MMPS figure out how much money they bring in each month and proceed to accumulate enough ‘minimum payments’ to match or exceed total household income each month
  • If an individual or household suffering from MMPS should see an increase in their income, thoughts like – paying down debt, investing, and establishing an emergency fund – are swiftly ignored in preference for accumulating more stuff (preferably in the form of another monthly bill). 
  • Frequent bouts of “why can’t I get ahead?” may result in increased irritability and sleeplessness
  • Bouts of paranoia and eagerness to lay blame with those “predatory” lenders that used “trickery” to induce the frequency and dollar amount of minimum monthly payments

While I’ve tried to make light of MMPS, I’m convinced it is a very serious personal finance problem for a number of American households.  We are lured in by it, comforted by it, and encouraged to believe that the “monthly minimum payment” is a perfectly viable financial strategy.   It is not.  

The minimum monthly payment is designed to encourage us to spend beyond our means and to disconnect us from the reality of our financial health.   We’ve come to equate the ability to afford a monthly payment with the ability to actually afford some product/service!  

“I can purchase this new car – the monthly payment over the next 72 months is only $349!”

“If we get that new TV this weekend it’s 0% for the first 6 months and will only cost us $65/month until 2013!”

“Student loans are what I call good debt.  Plus, I can deduct some of the interest I pay at the end of year.  And making the minimum monthly payment is what all graduates do.”

“Listen … I’m just going to take this cash advance out on my credit card as a short term fix, make the minimum monthly payments for a while and then have it all paid off by the end of the year.  I can afford it.”

How has that worked out for all of us?  What inevitably happens?  Do we continue to want more stuff and let those hopeful thoughts of only paying minimum monthly payments for the short-term go by the wayside the next time we simply ‘must’ have something?

There is most certainly a psychological component to this disease that makes it difficult for many of us to recognize MMPS as a problem.  In our heads we can tell ourselves things like: “My credit score is fine”, “I pay all my bills on time”, “What? Am I supposed to tell myself no?”, “I’ve never had a problem getting approved for credit”, “Everybody does it … it’s the American way!”, and “But I work hard and deserve it”.  

Do you find yourself saying these same things when you’re lying awake at night worried about that unexpected medical bill, the fight with your spouse about a major home repair, or the substantial decrease in value of your retirement account? 

And unless you’ve been fortunate enough to deal strictly with lenders that have provided you loans or goods at 0% interest (please let me know who they are!), when is the last time you sat down and considered the actually ‘financial’ cost of MMPS?  How much money does your disease cost?  If you were being honest with yourself, do you know how much of your monthly payments are going towards interest?  

There is another option.  

The passage from Isaiah encourages us to consider how and where we spend our time and money.  We are being asked to take a hard look at how we consume – for the sake of this article I’m asking us to consider our financial consumption.  Does it contribute to our spiritual and physical well being?  Does MMPS fill our souls with delight or leave us feeling hungry for an alternative?

Click here http://www.catholicpf.com/?p=29 to view a commonly used approach for curing MMPS!

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