The Daily Walk of Shame series usually examines things that just aren't right in the world of finance and investing. Today, though, we're replacing the "Shame" with "Fame." Feel free to spread the love in the comments section below.
Today's subject: New data from the Federal Reserve shows that, even as government deficits grow larger, personal deficits are shrinking. Revolving consumer debt fell at a 9.3% annualized clip in October, after declining at a rate of more than 10% in both August and September.
Visa (NYSE: V ) , MasterCard (NYSE: MA ) , Discover Financial (NYSE: DFS ) , and other credit card issuers can't like this data. It means you're mostly tossing the not-so-special offers they're sending you daily.
Why you should cheer: And you've been doing this for a while now. October marks the 13th consecutive month in which credit card balances have fallen, reports CreditCards.com. You're being more frugal.
You're also shopping smarter. Gap (NYSE: GPS ) , Abercrombie & Fitch (NYSE: ANF ) , and Saks (NYSE: SKS ) all reported lousy November same-store numbers, a suggestion that the traditional Black Friday shopping spree was more bleak than black.
You did that, and you should be proud.
What about the economy, you say? If there's a lesson from the Great Recession, let it be that debt-fueled growth may not be growth at all. Certainly it isn't sustainable growth when consumers run up deficits with high-rate credit cards and shaky subprime mortgages.
What now? Consumer spending is always going to be a key component of the U.S. economy. But it doesn't need to be the linchpin to growth, does it?
Alarmists will argue that a permanent spending slowdown in a more frugal society could induce a downward spiral. I don't believe that. But even if that were a possibility, is it really fair to pin America's future on a generation of consumers spending beyond their means? Haven't we already been through enough? I'd say so. That's why I applaud you, Mr. and Mrs. Cheapskate America.
Thanks to you, frugality is on its way to becoming the American virtue it's never been. Let's embrace this change and pass it on to our children. One way to get started: Join our 13th annual Foolanthropy drive, whereby the Fool will be donating time, talent, and treasure to improve financial literacy at Thurgood Marshall Academy Public Charter High School in Washington, D.C. Click here to learn more.
Or, if you're already inspired, post a comment below. For every article comment, blog post, blog comment, and discussion board post throughout the campaign, The Motley Fool will donate $0.10 to our adopted school (up to $20,000). So let us know what you think! Share your thoughts on financial literacy, volunteerism, and what you're doing in your own community, and give back at the same time.