Is holiday spending out of hand? Even kids are getting big-ticket laptops, iPods, video game machines. Not our family, though. We budget for Christmas three months ahead of time and pay cash. This year's budget is the same as the past 10 years.
Have you ever been in out-of-control debt? Yeah, 10 years ago, when we were spending more than we had which is why we're so hard-line now.
What's with the escalating consumer debt? People want what they want, they want it now, and they're willing to go into debt to get it. If they spent less, bought wisely and put a little money in the bank each month, they could pay most bills out of pocket.
Name a past financial decision you'd change. I'd buy a house at an earlier age.
Stocks and bonds trader
Is holiday spending over the top? Instead of buying things in stores, we should go to our own homes and pick something to throw away.
What accounts for the huge rise in consumer debt? People enter into contracts with credit card companies, run up some seemingly manageable debts, and get stuck with huge interest rates. That gets out of control pretty fast.
What's in store for our economy? Rising house prices have kept it afloat since 2001. Cheap interest rates let people buy houses and maintain their spending habits, but now huge numbers are over-extended. It wouldn't take much to set off a cycle of belt-tightening that would feed on itself.
Singer and voice teacher
Do you go into debt buying Christmas gifts? I rely on a debit card from my bank, so I spend only what I have in the bank.
Have you ever been in over-your-head debt? One time when neither my husband nor I could work, we got behind on medical bills. We eventually caught everything up, but it was scary.
What accounts for rising consumer debt? A lot of it is medical insurance. I pay $700 a month for just myself.
What financial decision would you change if you could? Besides marrying my husband? Buying a second house in Durango when interest rates were something like 14.5 percent. When I couldn't sell it, I had payments on two houses. I rented it out to a couple who moved in all their children, and then all their grandchildren, and a dog and a cat and a bird. It was a mess.
What's ahead for the economy? I'm hearing that trends in Wall Street resemble those just before the Great Depression. I'm thinking about putting my money into gold because it never loses value.