Our Debts

“If there were no credit system!”

It would be a lovely world if there were no credit system. Think of the millstones some of us hang round our necks in the shape of debts, all on account of this temptation. In one of Mr. Howell’s books, he makes the father of a family say to his children : “Don’t spend money if you haven’t got any.” The advice seems superfluous, and would be so if we had to pay ready money for everything we buy. But it is, in existing circumstances, only too easy to spend money that we have not got; from the dealings in the Stock Exchange down to the fishmonger’s round the corner.

Two points of view.

“Facilis est descensus.”

There are two ways of looking at the matter—one from the purchaser’s point of view, the other from the seller’s. I intend to take the purchaser’s first, having long thought the credit system highly demoralising to many who might have thriven and prospered bravely had not its insinuating temptations been thrown in their way. It is so fatally easy to order a quantity of nice things, to be paid for in a nebulous future, which always seem a long way off. And then, when the grip of it all begins to be felt, we are afraid not to go on ordering, lest our creditor should be offended and dun us for his “little account.” And so we get deeper and deeper in debt, and soon begin to lose our footing in the financial whirlpool. Oh, the misery of it! The long, sleepless nights of worry and despair, the irritable frame of mind thereby engendered, the loss of self-respect, the inability to make the most of our income while in debt, and the consequent hopelessness of ever extricating ourselves—all, all might be avoided if we were forced to pay on the spot for every purchase.

The young wife’s initial error.

An odious characteristic.

That the credit system has its advantages is more than possible; but I am not looking for them just at this moment. I want to sketch a gloomy picture, with the hope of inducing all who look upon it to abandon the habit of running long accounts, with its often ruinous results. The inexperienced young wife, unaccustomed to deal with large sums of money, often cripples her hard-working husband by falling most unconsciously into the snares of the system as it exists. In her desire to have everything comfortable, inviting, and agreeable for him in the home in his hours of leisure, she launches out in “ordering” all that she thinks would aid her in this unquestionably excellent object. Money always promises to do a great deal more than it ever actually accomplishes. It is one of its most odious characteristics, and the novice never dreams but that the incoming sums will cover all her outlay. Then comes the tug-of-war, and if she has no moral courage she struggles on without laying the whole matter before her husband, and is soon in a network of difficulties. He has to know, soon or late, and the resultant rift within the lute is by no means little. It is a very bad start! And when the wife would like to dress her little ones daintily and prettily, she finds herself unable to spend upon them anything beyond what may pay for absolute necessaries. If her punishment had not begun before, it very certainly commences then.

The poor husband.

And is not the poor husband to be pitied? He had, no doubt, the idea that all women, after their schooldays, are apt housewives, and entrusted to his young wife the entire management of the household. It is hard on him when he finds that all is chaos in the exchequer, and that he has to deny himself for years in many ways in order to pay debts that should never have been contracted.

If “trust” were not.

Think of the delightful difference there might have been in the little family were there no such thing as “trust” in trade, the children beautifully dressed and the pride of a happy mother; the father in good humour

  By PanEris using Melati.

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