Debtors Prison

Dear Next Generation,

Welcome back and thanks for letting this OldSoul share a little more.

The title should frighten you and needs some clarification. Not so much to ease your fear but to provide an escape map and plan.

There really was a debtors prison in the past. Those that didn’t pay their debts were locked up, shamed and forced to honor their debts. Of course they weren’t held for extensive periods of time. How else would they be able to repay? It was like being put in a corner as a child. The embarrassment was strong enough to get the point across.

The point was that as a society, the accepted ones paid debts on time. Those that didn’t, for whatever reason, were outcasts. It was also looked down on to have debt. That pressure from peers caused people to promptly pay down debt and be able to claim being debt free. Sometimes falsely, but they still strove for it. To ask someone, even a bank, for a loan, or a handout as they saw it, was shunned.

So you would think that with this societal mindset, there would be no need for a debtors prison. The opposite happened because of the shift from an agrarian economy to an industrial one brought more things to want. Raising a farm doesn’t buy the newest gadget.

People moved from the farm to industry jobs that almost provided gadget money. Almost. It had to feel like the carrot in front of the donkey.

A new product came from this Almost Enough economy and it was repackaged and called paying in installments. They were careful to hide terms like loan or even debt. After all you received the product before giving full price.

This caused people to buy things they couldn’t afford outright, or even in installments.  The feeling was that time would make it better, or soften the blow of a big purchase. This is true if it was the only thing you purchased until the payments were done.

The built in problem is shortsightedness. After a few months of making The timely payments, the dwindling resources didn’t feel so dwindling. You can get used to anything, this also was built inside installment payments.

The spiral to debtors prison was in the the fog of having new and better things seemingly with ease. This caused no room at the inn of debtors prison and society had agreed that you should have things.

So the physical debtors prison was replaced with a virtual one called a credit rating. This had the same shaming effect, especially if the rating was bad and you tried to purchase something in installments. The merchant would look down their nose and pretend to be sorry you didn’t qualify for this purchase.

Records are kept, seemingly forever, that tell the story of your timeliness, or lack there of , which the merchants can see and how much you can send out towards this purchase and for how long. You are now a financial open book.

You’re also now literally history. Instead of locking you up in shameful debtors prison, they deny you the gadgets and a place in society.

Because of past mistakes, you cannot purchase a house or a car. You cannot play with society. The shaming may be silent but it still hurts.

Boy that is a dim outlook isn’t it?

But I have to ask, who caused this? The creator of time payments? The merchant? Or the gadgets wooing you?

You know this answer and I won’t put salt in wounds. There was a critical hint back towards the beginning of this story which is the key to preventing this from happening in the first place.  Did you catch it?

When I was young living in my parents care, I observed our quality of living increase at a snails pace compared to my schoolmates. They had this and that new thing and we had, well, that one thing. And that one thing was prized above all others because it was new. That one new thing was always for the entire family.  There wasn’t a new thing for what seemed like in the mind of an impatient boy, forever. But that other new thing did come.

I couldn’t understand at the time that my family was buying that new thing on installments. The other new thing wasn’t allowed until that old new thing was paid off. My folks did this time and time again. Each piece that came before was afforded the same respect as the new piece. All pieces welcomed into our home received newness respect regardless of payoff status and age. Before I knew it, we had stuff. Also unable to to understand the importance of this, we OWNED the stuff.

Debtors prison never visited my house. I had the luxury of example from my home. For many of my replacements, there may have been none of this. This I hope is a clear map to escape debtors prison or avoid it altogether.

Thanks so much for allowing me to show you an alternative that I hope is useful in your journey replacing me.

Until next next time; Do try new things safely for the betterment of you and your generation.

Also, check out this helpful post on credit scores:
5 Reasons Why You Should Check Your Credit Score Annually (It’s Completely Free!)

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