Waiting in line to pay for my groceries, I noticed the absence of cash. Everyone used a credit card, including me. Those born after 1980 are not familiar with the fact that credit cards were not always so readily available.
In 1949 a man (Frank McNamara) was out dining with his wife. He had left his wallet home so his wife picked up the check. This oversight gave birth to the Diners Club credit card. (Not sure how this would help though – wouldn’t he carry the credit card in his wallet?) It was soon followed by the American Express card, Master Card, etc.
Years ago, in my small home town, there was one grocery store, owned by a father and son. People paid cash or the grocer ran a tab which the shopper paid up at the end of the month. Sometimes the store “carried” the debt when someone was unable to pay it in full.
Not sure if the “lay-away” plan is still in use. As a single bachelorette working gal, I often used it when I found apparel I could not afford with my meager salary. I’d make a down payment to hold it until I paid in full and only then could I take it home.
These days, with credit cards the norm, I’ve encountered cashiers unable to handle a cash transaction.
There is a radio commercial advising of a program whereby we can negotiate and lower our tax bill or wipe out some of our credit charges without paying the full amount. It reminds me of a line in Tennyson’s poem, The Charge of the Light Brigade: “Honor the charge they made.” I realize Tennyson meant a different type of “charge,” but you get my drift. How do people feel about this who “honor” their charges?
I once knew an elderly couple who never owned a credit card. When purchasing a new car, they saved their money until they could pay cash. I convinced them to take advantage of a store offering 90-days to pay for something without finance charges. They were erroneously billed a finance charge until I got it straightened out for them. They went back to paying cash from then on.
The financier, Dave Ramsey once said, “Only in America do we buy things we don’t need, with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like.”