The History of Credit & Debt – The Credit Surprise

While many view credit as a negative force in American culture, sufficient arguments can be made which uncover the hidden value that credit plays. Opponents to credit will tell you that debt, the antithesis of credit, has ruined many a life. While that is commonly stated, objective study of the facts tells a different story. … Read more

The History of Credit & Debt – Benjamin Franklin

While sailing to England in 1757, Benjamin Franklin the famous America statesman and author wrote “The Way to Wealth” which provided advice on a variety of subjects. The text was only sixteen pages but the advice contained therein was invaluable. Franklin has very strong opinions about debt and he was not shy about expressing them. … Read more

The History of Credit & Debt – Betty & Dave

Money troubles are not a modern problem. Almost forty years ago in Bluffton, Indiana, Betty and Dave Jacobs allowed their money struggles to become the focus of an article in a national magazine. Today millions of families still suffer from the exact same money issues and troubles. They suffer needlessly. It is obvious from reading … Read more

The History of Credit & Debt – Bankruptcy

Bankruptcy has been around for over four hundred years. However, what we assume to be bankruptcy, the elimination of debts, is not what bankruptcy started as intended to become. The word bankruptcy comes from bancus, the tradesman’s counter, and ruptus, broken, denoting one whose place of business was broken or gone. Under pre-English bankruptcy laws, … Read more

The History of Credit & Debt – The Finance Company

Today, when we think about the neighborhood finance company, it usually carries a negative connotation. Storefront lending is now the place you go when the bank won’t touch you, or so many believe. Personal finance companies played an important part in accelerating the consumption of credit in America. Ironically, that was not their intention. In … Read more

The History of Credit & Debt – History of Credit Cards

The history of the credit card is anticlimactic after everything you have read about the history of credit and debt so far. The credit token was developed in the late 1800’s because stores wanted a faster way to complete transactions rather than have to lookup individual information or record the name and address of the … Read more

The History of Credit & Debt – Saving Money

We often picture our Victorian ancestors practicing thrift, frugality and good money management. While those beliefs may be romantic, they are not accurate. America almost always has been a culture of consumption. As shown earlier, even the Pilgrims arrived in America with debt. Thrift was once openly discussed as being a sought-after virtue and held … Read more

The History of Credit & Debt – General Credit Terms in Early Consumer America

By the 1920s, credit had exploded upon American society. It was too late to put the genie back in the bottle since the rise in consumer debt was merely an extension of a long-standing American willingness to get ahead by borrowing. By this time, generations of Americans had been weaned on easy credit and would … Read more

The History of Credit & Debt – Early Installment Sales

Some of the earliest forms of consumer credit were installment loans. These loans were commonplace in the United States since around 1850 with sewing machine financing and really began to catch on. Women were the most enthusiastic about the advent of sewing machines on easy credit. Before the sewing machine it took on average fourteen … Read more

The History of Credit & Debt – Early Sources of Credit

Before organized consumer credit, there were five major lending sources: pawnbrokers, illegal small-loan lenders, retailers, friends and family, and mortgage lenders. Indebtedness was common prior to the 1800s. Unfortunately, it was hidden from view in the grocer’s book and the pawnshop ledger, in the butcher’s tab and the memory of friends. Early levels of national … Read more

The History of Credit & Debt – When Did Credit As We Know It Arrive In The U.S.?

As we’ve learned, installment credit began in the United States with the Pilgrims. The use of installment credit or loans to sell merchandise is not new at all. While credit sales have existed from the days of the Pilgrims, they were not as structured as installment sales. Debtors would pay back the local grocer as … Read more

The History of Credit & Debt – Debtors’ Prison

At last, our journey through financial history has reached a point where we recognize dollars and credit.   From Massachusetts, a 1729 Judgment to make payment or be thrown in jail.   During the early years of the United States, up to the mid-1800s, you could get tossed in prison for failing to pay back … Read more