A while back I decided to go through a box of my parents’ stuff, keep what was important to me and throw out the rest. In this box I came across an envelope that contained a magazine, Marriage: The Magazine of Catholic Family Living, August 1965, and a book by the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, The Communion of Saints: Sanctity Through the Centuries, 1967. Since my parents were married in August 1965, I figured that the magazine was given to my parents by the priest during their marriage preparation. As for the book, I don’t know. Since it does have a list of “Popular Namesakes in Heaven,” and little blurbs about them, perhaps it was given to my parents by one of my father’s sisters when my parents found out they were expecting me. (My mother was Lutheran so I doubt anyone on her side would give her a Catholic book.)
Since I have an aversion to recycling reading material that I haven’t read, I thought that I’d put these pieces on my bookshelf with the intention of reading them when I got the chance. Recently I got that chance. As I was sitting waiting for some software to install, I decided to leaf through the Marriage magazine. I came across what I thought was going to be an interesting article, review really, of C.S. Lewis’s book The Four Loves, but as I read more and more, I became interested less and less. So, I continued to leaf through. That’s when I ran across the article entitled: “Sign Here Sucker!” by John Tait. Now that’s an attention-getting title! (‘Course, the caveman picture on the opposite page helped draw my attention too.)
The subtitle to this article is “Many families are unaware of how much they are paying for purchases on credit.” Hmmm… this may have been written in the 1960s, but it’s quite relevant to those of us living in the 2010s.
The article starts out with a little story about a naive husband named Bob Green, who has a penchant for buying extravagant gifts. It’s two days before Christmas and he hasn’t yet bought a present for his wife. They’re overdrawn on their credit, so he doesn’t dare buy something else on credit. As he’s walking to his car he’s approached by a man selling watches. “Just pay me $20, take the watch, and return it to me tomorrow if you decide you don’t want it, I’ll be here…,” says the man. Thinking it was a good deal, Bob signed his name to what he thought was a receipt and went home. Needless to say, his wife was not pleased and sent him to get his money back. Well, any intelligent reader can see what’s coming next. Bob not only could not get his money back, but the “receipt” that he blindly signed was a contract agreeing to pay the con artist $250. The article goes on to say that even though you may not be as gullible as Bob, you can still end up signing contracts that will end up costing way more than you anticipate. The article offers information and advice about the pitfalls of consumer credit.
Although the article mentions outdated terms such as “revolving store credit” (interest charged by the month) and “passbook loans”, it does have some good advice for the 21st Century consumer. Having recently gotten my first credit card bill after the newly enacted credit card consumer protections took effect, I found this passage particularly interesting.
…Edward Gudeman, former under Secretary of Commerce, once declared that ‘Under the conditions applying to a modern installment credit system the idea of only six per cent credit charge, for instance, is a myth—and the public should be aware of it. Consumers should know the true cost of credit.’
In the last few years, different bills have been presented to Congress to provide a standard method of credit-labeling that would make price comparisons meaningful…. The customer could then see at a glance the precise cost of the credit he is buying.
Since this sort of accommodation is still largely in the potential phase, the best advice is to always shop around for the best deal, read every contract carefully before signing, and make full calculation of the credit charges.
The article goes on to say that “most experts agree that 20 per cent of your income [after taxes] should be the absolute limit” as to the amount of debt a family can handle.
Prudent advice that, like this magazine, had remained hidden for quite some time.
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