How Our Parents Saved
When credit cards first came along, Americans viewed people who used them with great distrust. In fact, my mom recounted to me the first time that she and her parents witnessed someone purchasing something on credit. (Can you imagine even remembering something like that?)
A large truck pulled up in their small neighborhood and unloaded a houseful of brand new furniture. All of these big ticket items were for a young married couple that had just graduated from college. Housewives will talk and when it was learned that the couple had used credit cards, the whole neighborhood was appalled. And still my grandparents would not use credit.
However, by the time my mom was in her adult years, she used credit cards regularly. And thus, in one generation, credit cards went from being “something used by fools” to “a necessity”.
All of this begs the question: If our grandparents and great grandparents never used credit, how the heck did they afford things?
In short, the answer is simple. They SAVED up for them!
I know, I know. That seems like a totally alien concept. As ‘Credit Casual Americans’ we put everything on credit cards or we under save to buy cars and houses. Instead of putting 20% down (the absolute minimum in my grandparent’s day) we put 10%, 5% or even 0% down.
But now that it’s become painfully obvious that our grandparents were right, let’s look at some of the ways they saved up.
- Layaway. This used to be the norm for buying designer dresses and shoes. Every department store used to have a layaway program. Every time our grandparents wanted to purchase a big ticket item, they would put a little money down and then make payments. When they had paid the full price, they received the item. How boring. How unglamorous. How SANE.
- S & H Green Stamps. This was basically a frequent shopping program. Every time people would buy groceries they’d receive “stamps”. Then you licked the stamps (remember when people used to lick stamps?) and placed them in books. So many stamps “bought” various items. My mother and I licked enough stamps to get all of our dishes and cups this way!
- Separate savings accounts. This was done by actually going into a bank and depositing money in a savings account…in person. Some of you may even recall receiving a savings “passbook” where you would physically write down what you had deposited. Nowadays, I use ING Direct and separately labeled accounts. I like ING because it’s not right down the street so it takes me a couple of days to withdraw money. Given that time, I can slow down and ask myself if I really want to make a specific purchase.
- Envelope system. People labeled envelopes and then kept them in their drawers or purses. I’ve tried this and it just does not work for me. I try to always use cash but having run out of the envelope cash a couple of times with a toddler having a meltdown and needing a snack on the road, I found it too stressful to maintain.
- They worked their way through school. No one took out student loans and school was much cheaper. Here’s the real kicker, people actually graduated without any debt. My dad’s medical school cost $750…a year.
Those are just some of the ways they saved and debting was never an option. Do you remember any other ways to save from ‘the good old days’?
ARROGANCE: A strong feeling of proud self-importance that is expressed by treating other people with contempt or disregard*
I can’t tell you how shocked I was to discover that I would actually have to pay my credit card companies back. The way my sick mind saw it back then was that their money was my money. The money they lent me didn’t seem real. I was entitled to a lot of credit. I had things to do with that money. Important things like um…oh things I can’t remember now. I was actually mad at them when they billed me for repayment! They were the enemy. I was special. I was different. The rules didn’t apply to me.
In my life I’ve noticed that arrogance leads to debting. Can arrogance be one of the causes of your debts?
Action: Do you have a debt that you feel you are “too good” to pay back? Maybe you really dislike the person or company you owe money to. Using free flow writing, explore all of the places in your life where your feelings of self importance may have led you to debt.
Prayer: Lord, please help me to remember that being a child of the King doesn’t mean that I can treat other people or institutions rudely because of my whims and wishes.
*Encarta® World English Dictionary © 1999 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. Developed for Microsoft by Bloomsbury Publishing Plc
$650??!! How could that be? My minimum required monthly credit card payment was more than my rent! I was late in paying my $550 rent yet again and I had no idea when my next check was coming in. I didn’t even have enough money for coffee and had already sold all of my music CDs for cash. What could I do?
I decided to take a walk around the park and get fresh air. I didn’t even believe in God very much back then. But I believed just enough (“faith of a mustard seed”) to pray while I walked. Inside, my heart wasn’t just broken, my soul ached. I was so damaged and exhausted. Tired of hustling. Tired of working four jobs. How could I be working so hard and still never be able to make my bills? I felt spiritually dead. So out of desperation I spoke honestly to God. “Why are you doing this to me? I hate you!” And later after I had calmed down… “Whatever you want me to do God. I’ll do it. But you need to let me know you exist. Are you real? Do you even care about me?”.
Nothing happened until a month later when I received my next Visa bill.
Last month’s payment received: $650.
But I never sent them a check! Yes, somehow my bill had been paid. I called the credit card company to make sure there wasn’t an error. The lady on the phone told me that the computer showed that the bill had definitely been paid.
Several years later when I was debt free and prosperous I sent in a contribution to the credit card’s charity in acknowledgment of God’s grace.
It was the first of many financial miracles I was to receive as I prayed and took actions to get out of debt into prosperity in all areas of my life.
But the first step was to accept that I had gotten myself into this situation. Not him. I wasn’t being tortured, I was being disciplined and now I can see that I was being prepared for wealth.
Are you willing to believe that you can’t do life anymore on your own? How have things been going for you so far? I you’re reading this you may be at a point emotionally, physically and spiritually of bankruptcy. It is my hope that this blog will lead you to a life of true abundance.