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Embarrassment of Riches

"We want to help our member financial institutions learn to tap into this middle-class desire they have, but do it on their terms," said Jim McCarthy, senior vice president for consumer credit products at Visa USA.

Normally I would worry about marketers figuring out how to get people to spend. However, I think Visa is on to something.

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_____Column Archive_____
Loan Terms Can Make It Hard to Climb Out of the Subprime Pit (The Washington Post, Feb 17, 2005)
When ID Theft Starts at Home (The Washington Post, Feb 13, 2005)
Read Michelle's Past Columns

The new and smarter affluent consumer knows how to spend well and live a richer life.

Actually, 82 percent of those surveyed by Visa described their financial philosophy as "trying to strike a balance between enjoying things now and saving for the future."

I admit that having money to feel guilty about is a blessing. However, I do have to learn to strike a balance.

My grandmother taught me that even when you're doing well, you should act like you don't have anything.

Big Mama was wrong.

At some point we lifelong savers have to learn that living well isn't a sin. If you're doing all the right things -- working hard, living below your means, saving for your retirement, giving to charitable causes and putting away money for your child's college education -- then it's okay to splurge sometimes.

As Weiss said: "You don't have to feel guilty about doing well. Just be quiet about it and live your life modestly and in moderation."

Michelle Singletary discusses personal finance Tuesdays on NPR's "Day to Day" program and online at www.npr.org. Readers can write to her at The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071 or by e-mail at singletarym@washpost.com. Comments and questions are welcome, but due to the volume of mail, personal responses may not be possible. Please also note that comments or questions may be used in a future column, with the writer's name, unless a specific request to do otherwise is indicated.


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