I was my local bank -- TD BankNorth -- the other day, depositing a check and looking at mortgage information. I read the brochure and saw that this "financial services institution" was offering "vacation loans."

I know that most banks offer vacation loans and loans for installing pools or getting breast implants, but I'm still amazed that they advertise a product that is so dangerous to the financial health of their customers. I was talking to the loan officer while I waited for the computer to process my mortgage application, and I asked her about the vacation loans. She said that she felt that they were a valuable service to consumers because they were preferable to putting recreational travel expenses on a credit card.

I guess that's true. But it's also kind of like hearing a coke dealer defend his trade by saying that crack is bad for your teeth.Perhaps I'm an idealist, but I would love to see a bank that was focused on improving the financial situations of its customers, not just maximizing its bottom line. I cannot think of a single situation where a vacation loan is a financially acceptable move to make, and banks are just giving their customers a product that can help ruin their financial lives.

Of course, the responsibility ultimately rests with the consumer and let me offer my own take on vacation loans in no uncertain terms: if you take out a loan to go on vacation, you are stupid.

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