The new American Dream or is it a nightmare?

On March 23, 2011, the New York Times ran this story: "Out of College, Not on Her Own". The story starts out like this: "COURTNEY McNAIR has been out of college for three years. She has a degree in political science and Spanish. She also has the same address she had in high school and the same bedroom in her parents’ Los Angeles home. Not to mention $40,000 in student loan debt, $2,000 in credit card bills and $10,000 left to pay on her red 2008 Chrysler PT Cruiser."

I don't know Courtney, but her story is similar to many college graduates, and the reason I bring it up is because of the trouble too many people have fallen into while chasing their image of the American Dream. The old picture of the American Dream looked like you with things: a house, a car, a college education, and comfort oriented things. The problem is that the picture didn't include a guide on paying for these things without debt. Rather we are reminded that Americans are hard working, and that hard work will lead to such materialistic prosperity.

Suze Orman discusses the new American Dream

Is hard work the answer?
Again, I don't know Courtney, but let's assume she is hard working. She does have a college degree, and that takes hard work to achieve. While she does have a nice car and a good education, items found in the old American Dream, her financial situation is anything but dreamy. Even though she is hard working she is in trouble. Her $13.00 per hour job with her parents will not make paying off $52,000.00 of debt very easy. Surely, this wasn't Courtney's dream.

What about a new American Dream?
Talking about her new book, The Money Class, Suze Orman says, "It's a dream where you live below your means but within your needs. You are not spending every penny, you are not impressing people. You are living a life where you can sleep at night and you are actually happy." My favorite definition of the American Dream comes from Thomas Jefferson. "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."



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