Monday, October 8, 2012

Signs of the Times (part 2) - Layaway

I grew up in a small town and, in my neck of the woods, the "big city" had 50,000 people in it, and it was an hour's drive away.   The key word here is - I grew up.   And so did my perception of size and distance.  Since then I have worked in some real metropolises (up to 4 million people) and an hour's drive was considered a reasonable commute.

But as a child, it was the treat to go to Kmart in the "big city."  They had so much stuff there - at a discount - it doesn't get much better that this.  And this ad brings back memories.


My mother would slip away to Kmart after school had started to do Christmas shopping.  Many gifts she bought on their layaway plan.  Those were the days when credit cards were not ubiquitous nor so easy to get.  And an ethic still prevailed that you only bought what you could pay for.

Pay as you go?  What an old fashioned idea!

But after I graduated from college and entered the work force, that all changed.  Getting credit cards was becoming much easier - too easy.  I was begged by department stores to please, please sign up for their cards.  Discounts for me - but a nice commission for the floorwalker that signed me up.  And my junk mail floweth over with the good news of how I was pre-qualified to use their cards.  So charge ahead!

Buying things was never so easy.  Just take out the magic plastic - voila! -  instant gratification.  Kick the can down the road and pay for it later.  None of this pay as you go stuff.  And this cheesy ad from the 1980s capitalizes on buying on credit even if your credit is crap.

But since then came the October Crash of 2008.    Deep recession followed with job losses, tighter home budgets, crushing debt, foreclosures, and credit becoming harder to get.  And after the crash I have noticed layaway ads at stores - such as K-mart - especially near Christmas.

Layaway is popular, again.

We've come full circle on the concept of living within our means and paying as you go ...

 And that is good thing!

If only our government had done that we would not have this $16 trillion debt, don't you think?

But Layaway is one of the signs of the times
and hopefully a wake-up call for fiscal responsibility.


Previous post in this series:

Signs of the Times (part 1) - Camping in the Parks (2012)


Photo:  Wikipedia - Kmart logo

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