KIRSTY APP - Borrowing Attitudes Towards Borrowing

Many of us were brought up to believe that it was wrong, or at least foolish, to lend or borrow money at all. In medieval times there were strong social and economic arguments against usury. The Church was opposed to it. Shakespeare, in Polonius' advice to his son in Hamlet, advised 'Neither a borrower nor a lender be'. The same attitude underpinned the Victorians' strong disapproval of debt. Some religions in modern times prohibit usury.

Since World War 2, though, three things have happened which have modified those traditional attitudes. First, the bulk of the population has become customers of banks and other providers of financial services and obtained access to consumer credit. The resulting boom in credit has, in successive reviews and reports, been judged as a general social good, contributing to the rise in our standard of living. Millions have benefited from car ownership and holidays, television sets and washing-machines because they have been able to borrow.

Secondly, in periods of high inflation it has been sound financial practice to borrow at today's prices as it will be easy to repay from tomorrow's inflated wages, avoiding paying tomorrow's inflated prices. This further inflates prices and increases interest rates, so it is not necessarily as good a strategy as it may appear to be.

Thirdly, more and more people need to use credit facilities to get by in today's* world. For instance, the lack of, or overloading of, public transport in some areas makes private transport an essential means of travel to work for many. In buying a car by hire purchase or with a loan, we are changing from paying as we go (so much a journey, a week or a year for bus or train fares) to buying several years' journeys in advance, and we can do that without saving the capital sum to buy a car for cash.


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Borrowing As A Fact Of Life

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