I know a couple that’s in pretty bad shape. They're in awful financial trouble. And it seems so stupid and pointless because it was all avoidable. Both the husband and wife make a ton of money. They're actually one of the most affluent families I know. Even their children are productive.

But like so many other households, they made the mistake of assuming they could spend forever. Though they have tons of disposable income, they opened every credit line they could get their hands on. Credit cards, home equity lines, title loans. Everything. And one by one they maxed out each source of credit on frivolous trips overseas and projects at home they didn’t need. They even bailed out their wealthiest children during times when a life lesson in the consequences of stupidity would have been better.

If the couple I know ever thought about the possibility that one day lenders would shut them off, they didn’t think about it long. I suppose their debt load got so high that the numbers lost all relevance. And instead of focusing on a solution, they spent all their energy on blame.

I don’t have a lot of sympathy for people who can’t control their borrowing, nor do I shed tears for creditors who lend all their eggs to the same basket. Both make the false assumption that their favorite well lacks a rock bottom. I do have empathy for the children of compulsive borrowers, though. The kids have to sit and watch the petty bickering every night.

She says he needs to stop spending. He says she does, too. She says he needs to make more money. He says she needs to commit to an action plan first. Into the night it goes, but the sun always rises on the status quo.

The most unfortunate irony is that the parents thought they were giving their children every freedom in the world and instilling a sense of familial loyalty. In reality, they did the complete opposite. Children learn by example, and the example they've seen won’t set them down a path of self-created prosperity; instead, they're on a centrist road of dependent misery.

There’s still time for change, though. While the greatest financial household in the world still has some credibility with its neighbors and lenders, it needs to start dishing tough love, but it needs to serve itself first.

They, rather we, can’t be helped until we help ourselves.