This thread got me thinking about how being in debt is nothing unusual nowadays - and I believe it’s partly down to credit cards. OK, debt has been with us throughout history, but I believe it’s thought of differently today.
Hire purchase was introduced in the nineteenth century, but until the 1960s the hire companies were entitled to have the goods back unless the debt was paid in full - so the incentive to manage your debt was pretty strong. This principle applied to mortgages too.
Credit cards were introduced to the UK in 1966. Before that, there were, as far as I know, only two ways to borrow money (from a business): banks and loan companies. While it might have been necessary, it was still considered a bit of a stigma. Now, credit card companies encourage us to be in debt, and it is considered to be socially acceptable - if not even desirable.
Managing debt can be difficult and painful. I believe that many debt ridden people are ill equipped to cope with the situation they have placed themselves in. So, should debt be considered more undesirable than it currently is?
The current credit crisis is the perfect exemplar of how not to manage debts well, and the disastrous consequences that follow such bad mamagement.