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How to Get Americans Out of Debt

Is America trapped in a culture of debt? Organizers of “San Diego Saves Week” explain how they hope to promote a savings mentality to encourage debt reduction. Plus, a local bankruptcy judge outli

How to Get Americans Out of Debt

Tom Fudge:  When you listen to the news, you may roll your eyes at the thought of San Diego's $2 billion pension and retiree health-care deficit. But don't think that the average American manages money much better than the City of San Diego. Surveys over the past five years show that most Americans spend more than their after-tax income. That's right, the U.S. as a whole has a negative savings rate.

It's debatable, how big a problem that is. Some economists say you can save too much, and deficit spending by the governments is an accepted economic strategy. But there's nothing good about credit card debt, and that's clearly the greatest contributing factor to this country's overall consumer debt. 


An organization called Debt-Free America is sponsoring "San Diego Saves Week." San Diego Saves Week is Feb. 25, through March 4. It's an effort on the part of Debt-Free America, among other organizations, to encourage San Diegans to build savings instead of debt.


  • Gary Symington , president of Debt-Free America, a non-profit community service organization offering credit counseling, debt management programs and financial education to consumers
  • John Hargrove, chief judge of San Diego's federal bankruptcy court. He also directs the local Credit Abuse Resistance Education (CARE) Program.

Break Music:  “All About My Girl” by Jimmy McGriff, from the album Jimmy McGriff’s Greatest Hits (1997)

End Music:  “Stretch Your Rubber Band” by the Meters, from the album Zony Mash (2003)