What Do You Do If You Can’t Afford It?

So I had a pretty good laugh from this today; and makes a lot of sense. I remember back in the day when my parents would DREAD credit cards. We’d have one for a purchase we needed to finance and then it was on the phone and cutting up the card IMMEDIATELY afterwards. If my folks didn’t have the $, they didn’t buy it; which coincidentally was almost every time I wanted something!

The Video

If you can watch video on your machine, I highly suggest you watch it to get the full effect as the transcript tells the story, but it isn’t delivered in all its comic genius.  As all the politicians say:

My name is Hank, and I approve the following video!


For those of you that don’t have access to view videos (or don’t want to laugh hysterically) here is the transcript version. But really, you want to watch the comedy in this all too familiar American kitchen. A husband (Steve Martin) and wife (Amy Poehler) are eating their dinner when the book Salesman walks in…

Wife: Oh, I just can’t get these numbers to add up
Husband: Like we’re never going to get out of this hole.
Wife: Credit card debt, does it ever end?
Salesman: [entering from who-knows-where] Maybe I can help.
Husband: We sure could use it.
Wife: We’ve tried debt consolidation companies.
Husband: We’ve even taken out loans to help make payments.
Salesman: Well, you’re not the only one. Did you know that millions of Americans live with debt they can not control? That’s why I developed this unique new program for managing your debt. [Holds up book] It’s called, “Don’t Buy Stuff You Cannot Afford”
Wife: Let me see that. [Reading from book] If you don’t have any money, you should not buy anything. Hmmm … sounds interesting.
Husband: Sounds confusafford.jpging.
Wife: I don’t know honey, this makes a lot of sense. There’s a whole section here on how to buy expensive things using money you’ve “saved”.
Husband: Give me that. And where do you get this “saved” money?
Salesman: I tell you where and how in Chapter 3.
Wife: OK, what if I want something but I don’t have any money?
Salesman: You don’t buy it.
Husband: Let’s say, I don’t have enough money to buy something. Should I buy it anyway?
Salesman: No.
Husband: Now I’m really confused.
Salesman: It’s a little confusing at first.
Wife: What if you have the money, can you buy something?
Salesman: Yes.
Wife: Now, take the money away. Same story?
Salesman: Nope. You shouldn’t buy stuff when you don’t have the money.
Husband: I think I’ve got it. I buy something I want, then hope that I can pay for it. Right?
Salesman: No. You make sure you have money, then you buy it.
Husband: Oh, then you buy it! But shouldn’t you buy it before you have the money?
Salesman: No.
Wife: Why not?
Salesman: It’s in the book. It’s only one page long. The advice is priceless and the book is free.
Wife: Wow. I like the sound of that.
Husband: Yeah, we can put it on our credit card.
Announcer: So, get out of debt now. Write for your free copy of “Don’t Buy Stuff You Cannot Afford”. And, if you order now, you’ll also receive, “Seriously, If You Don’t Have the Money, Don’t Buy It” along with a twelve month subscription to “Stop Buying Stuff” Magazine. Order today.


Welp, it is fairly straightforward and need not a lot of feedback but it really does show how the American way of life has changed in the past 30 or 40 years. Like I said at the beginning, my parents wouldn’t have THOUGHT of buying on credit if they had any other way around it. But today people think of credit the same way and dive right in.

Who is to blame? The banks willing to lend or the buyers willing to accept it? Know anybody like this?

Filed Under: adviceBudgetingCreditCredit CardsDebtEmergency fund

  • Yup that was pretty funny!! That would be cute to give to the kids!
    I was like that but after meeting and marrying my new husband as of 2 years this month finding out he is completely different. You don’t buy anything unless you have the cash(needless to say we don’t have much). You want something you save for it!!! I am really glad though he is this way cuz I don’t know where I would be if he didn’t come along(money wise).
    Great post!!

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  • Hah.. I got a good chuckle out of this whole bit.. thanks!

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  • Didn’t see the movie but read the transcript. I’m confused? lol

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  • funny vid 🙂

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  • @Dana – Your situation sounds eerily similar to my own. 😉

    @Pete and @Zombie – Glad you liked it.

    @Alisa – the transcript doesn’t give it justice, but it’s a complete spoof on how Americans are always buying everything on credit and just don’t grasp the concept of having the money before spending it (on credit).

  • Hey Hank – great post. It’s just kind of sad the state that we live in today is defining “afford it” buy how much in monthly payments we can afford. It’s time for us to revert back to a time of simplicity – relax and enjoy your life and enjoy only what you have. Things will work themselves out in time.

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  • you know how funny that is even though we know we can’t afford it but still we still buy them. I agree that things will work themselves out in time.

  • I come from a generation where credit was just taking off sort of. My mum and dad would just about buy stuff on the “tick” or HP. If you said you were buying something on HP or the never never you were considered quite poor. Consequently mum and dad always tried to find the money for new things which was quite difficult when you had 6 kids – remember this was the late 50s and early 60s when it was still fashionable to have a lot of kids but not for the kids maybe. Credit was essential then and it is now. Kids want to be dressed in the latest stuff or they get bullied etc etc so credit is the only way to go – but it is a hard path to follow.

  • that very funny vid.