I was reading some slave narratives recently. There are a good number of them, recorded from the 1930s onward, in which elderly former slaves talked about their lifetime experiences. One of them was Fountain Hughes, born in 1848 and interviewed in 1949. He had quite a bit to say about his century on this world. Right away I noticed some things quite relevant to people today. He spoke at length on the subject, beginning with the following (phonetic spelling as given in the original transcript):
You all try to live like young people ought to live. Don’ want everything somebody else has got. Whatever you get, if it’s yourn be satisfied. An’ don’ spen’ your money till you get it. So many people get in debt. Well, that was all so cheap when I bought it. You spen’ your money fore you get it because you’re going in debt for what you want. When you want something, wait until you get the money an’ pay for it cash. Tha’s the way I’ve done. If I’ve wanted anything, I’d wait until I got the money an’ I paid for it cash. I never bought nothing on time in my life. Now plenty people if they want a suit of clothes, they go to work an’ they’ll buy them on time. Well they say they was cheap. They cheap. If you got the money you can buy them cheaper. They want something for, for waiting on you for, uh, till you get ready to pay them. An’ if you got the money you can go where you choose an’ buy it when you go, when you want it. You see? Don’t buy it cause somebody else go down an’ run a debt an’ run a bill or, I’m gonna run it too. Don’ do that. I never done it. Now, I’m a hundred years ol’ an’ I don’ owe nobody five cents, an’ I ain’t got no money either. An’ I’m happy, jus’ as happy as somebody that’s oh, got million.
So there you go. Live within your means, and forget about trying to keep up with the Joneses. I’m not sure what kind of interest they were charging for store credit back in those days, but now millions of people are getting royally screwed with credit cards. If you’ve got plastic, pay it down every month. Don’t let the banksters get their hooks into you! Paying interest on a credit card does you as much good as feeding money into a paper shredder. If Fountain Hughes could live over a century without running up even a nickel of consumer debt, there’s an example to follow.