When I was a little boy growing up, my parents used to buy things such as a car, TV or refrigerator on a credit agreement, at the time called Hire Purchase. Paying back way more than the item was ever worth, these repayments would last for many years. It earned the nickname, "buying on the never never", another way of saying, you could have it now and pay later.
Virtually the whole world has been rocked over the past half dozen years or so by a global financial recession, sparked in part by the collapse of the sub-prime mortgage industry in the USA. However, it really owes it origins to far earlier than that, when we started to have credit made available to us. We could have pretty much anything we wanted right now, without having to wait while we saved up for it. It seemed at times the more you wanted to get into debt, the easier it was. Finance companies were literally throwing money at you, and we had little regard for the interest rates attached.
Eventually this all blew up in our faces, and that debt suddenly needed repaid, and a large percentage of people couldn't, and thus went bust. And it escalated, deeper and deeper, until eventually the system broke worldwide.
Up until 1869 in the UK, if you had debt you could be imprisoned. Now it seems the more debt you have the more you are offered.
But debt and credit's a bad thing right?
I pride myself with having virtually no debt except for a mortgage, which is all but paid off. I don't use credit cards, I have never owned a store card, and for the past 20 years or so I have never been overdrawn. I'm not wealthy by any means, I just live within my means. If I want something, I wait until I have saved the money for it.
Well that's good, isn't it?
You'd think so, but recently I contacted my energy provider to change a gas meter from a pay-as-you-go card meter, to a regular meter where I would be billed.
I was refused because I didn't have a credit score.
Furious, I delved deeper. It would seem not being in debt, or not paying regular amounts to pay off a credit card balance, has gone against me. I am, quite literally, being punished for living within my means and not contributing to the financial mess that our country is in.
If I had mountains of debt, and were paying it off without defaulting every month, I would have a high credit score and would have no problems.
A completely ridiculous situation, and despite all my efforts of the past week, without a credit history there's absolutely nothing I can do about it.
Short of going out and buying that Ferrari on the never never that is.