Don’t rack up debt! Why buying on credit is slavery (1916)

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Shoe salesman and business reports - 1915

Shoe salesman and business reports - 1915

Don’t owe – pay as you go: Buying on credit is slavery

Way pointed to avoid shackles that grip workers

Buying on credit is slavery. A woman who realizes just how the shackles of debt grip the careless or unwary points out how they may be avoided.

“Buy absolutely on a cash basis and secure discounts,” is her motto. Mrs Percy Benjamin of this city [Chicago] is the woman who so advises.

The cost of living is increasing. Wages and salaries, however, are not. Therefore, to meet this increase, a working agreement must be established with Old Man Economy; else there may be a visit from John Henry Hardship, who is a great pal of Old Man Hard Luck.

Buy for cash. Don’t run bills. In this, you will keep attachments off your pay envelope and bill collectors off your doorstep. If you buy for cash, and buy right, you can save on an average of 20 cents on the dollar.

The way to buy right is to deal with a cash store or else demand a 10 percent discount for cash purchases from concerns that do business on a credit basis.

Very few housewives buy right. They don’t take Old Man Economy into consideration, and in consequence, often get into the clutch of the Loan Shark or the Installment Plan Shark, who are twin brothers.

Few people realize this — especially housewives. A few, however, do, and Mrs Percy Benjamin is one.

She is the wife of a working man — a salesman. They have a large family of one child, “which,” says Mrs Benjamin, “is almost equal in this day day of 10-cent bread and $10 shoes to the size of the family of the ‘Old Lady who lived in the shoe, and had so many children she didn’t know what to do.'”

It has been a considerable time since Percy Benjamin received a raise from the concern for which he works. He is extremely capable, however, else the company would dispense with his services, for corporations, generally speaking, are not at all sentimental.

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Although Percy Benjamin has not recently received a raise, yet all the necessaries of life have — some of them two and three raises especially since manipulators have had the European war as an excuse to boost prices.

However, the Benjamins are getting on nicely, thank you. Of course, they are not getting rich, but they are getting by. And they are doing it by paying spot cash for everything. They run no bills. The end of the month finds Percy Benjamin square with the world and with himself.

“I buy for cash,” says Mrs Benjamin, “and take advantage of cash discounts. When possible, I deal only with cash stores because they sell more cheaply than do the concerns that give credit. Credit is not an accommodation; it is a form of slavery.

“You get into the clutch of a firm and you may never get out. Maybe you get in so deeply that you get dragged into court. Maybe you lose your property. You at least lose your pride. There is always a day of reckoning for the person who runs bills.

“When you buy on the credit plan, you face a temptation to purchase unnecessary articles. You see a pretty dress, or a chair, or a picture. You are egged on by the salesperson. Finally you buy, saying: ‘Oh, well, we can put it on the bill and pay at the end of the month.’ Because of the credit system, you have coaxed yourself into hardship.

“Nobody can afford, with the cost of living as high as a kite, to get beyond his depth in the sea of finances, especially a man working for wages or on a salary. Buy for cash, and you will never be overstocked, nor will you have anything on hand that you don’t need.”

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