It's Just Too Easy

Yesterday, I received a postal mail offer from one of the local car dealers for a pre-approved auto loan. The paper had a toll-free number to call with a code to get the loan amount. Being in a curious mood, I rang and discovered that (supposedly) I was pre-approved for $22,500. Walk in and walk out with a car, no money down.

We drive a clunker 1989 Volvo 740 that my wife curses almost everyday. So the idea of a new car is appealing, and $22,500 is lots of spending power. It’s a helluva lot of debt, too. As momentarily tempted as I was, no car loan. We’ll drive the clunker and get by. 

An hour or so later, I mentioned the offer to a good friend during a phone call. He had just opened up a bank account for a new business and was asked why he hadn’t responded to an earlier offer (by mail) for a mortgage loan of up to $175,000. Apparently he hadn’t seen the offer, but that wouldn’t matter. My buddy asked the bank rep why in hell he would want to take on a whole load of new debt while trying to start up a business.

What bothers me is just how easy it is to get into debt, to borrow beyond means because lenders make the process so damn easy. And scary, too. Twenty minutes after the call ended with my friend, the auto dealer rang. I had called to check on the loan amount via an automated service, but somehow that trigged some notification to the car dealer.

Guy said, “I heard you’re looking for a new car”. “Uh, no, I’m not”, I chirped. “No? I got a print out right here that says you’re looking for a new car”. Then call ended, when I made clear my no-buying intentions.

The whole situation left me feeling uneasy, and not just because he called; my cell number! Damnation, my cell number!

Monday a new bankruptcy law will make it harder for people to unload their debt, all the while lenders bang on the door for people to borrow more and more. Debtor’s prison isn’t just a place you go when you’re broke. It’s a place you live every day. Because it’s just too easy to borrow.

Photo Credit: Powerhouse Museum