Previous generations were ashamed of debt. Not only was it relatively rare, but it was also widely regarded as a moral issue. How different things are today! In the first quarter of 2011, U.S. households owed $11.5 trillion in consumer debt, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. True much of that was secured on real estate, but if you strip out mortgages and home equity lines of credit (HELOCs), you're still left with $2.29 trillion. Divide that by the country's population of 312 million, and you find that every man, woman and child in America owes on average $7,340. Of course, many owe nothing (babies, children, rich folk, those who are brilliant money managers), but that just means that many others owe more. And some owe much, much more.