Pepys diary for 13th May 1664
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Today: Never was the sound of rain so sweet as it was last night. It rained upon us for a least two hours. I’ve now awake, quite late for me, at 8 AM to find a cloudless blue sky albeit with a rather chilly wind. Today we must finish a gardening job and the long grass that I have to cut must be attended to with a strimmer otherwise the whole thing is flattened and no cutting can take place.
“……. I went homeward, calling upon my cozen Roger Pepys, with whom I talked and heard so much from him of his desire that I would see my brother’s debts paid, and things still of that nature tending to my parting with what I get with pain to serve others’ expenses that I was cruelly vexed. Thence to Sir R. Bernard, and there heard something of Pigott’s delay of paying our money, that that also vexed me mightily. So home and there met with a letter from my cozen Scott, which tells me that he is resolved to meddle no more with our business, of administering for my father, which altogether makes me almost distracted to think of the trouble that I am like to meet with by other folks’ business more than ever I hope to have by my owne. So with great trouble of mind to bed.”
It is quite obvious that Pepys is troubled by money, not so much his own the problems of his friends and business contacts both those who are in need and those who do not attend to their debt with him
Sometimes, we made a rod for our own back by lending money without thinking about it first. In a moment of largess we offer a loan but if we don’t take the trouble to investigate the circumstances we may be just pouring it down the drain. For example if a person is a compulsive spender or gambler there habit exerts a stronger pull over them then the desire to pay back. I suppose it’s the same as gambling, only gamble what you can afford to lose but it’s even worse with a friend because the lack of payment induces a certain tension in the relationship which may spoil it. It would seem to make more sense to discuss with the person why they got into the problem in the first place. Perhaps they were undercharging for their services feeling that they were not good enough, or who were not capable of keeping their accounts. I remember a close friend saying that no one had ever told them to manage money and they did not learn the principles of simple bookkeeping until halfway through their life.
Putting it another way, giving someone some money just puts off the evil day when they have to confront themselves and what got them into the position. England is awash with debt advice agencies and people should not under estimate the value of the Citizens Advice Bureau. It may have a staid and traditional image but the amount of experience they have in their computer systems is considerable. Nationally, we spend over £2 billion using credit cards each day. We make 126 purchases each second. The total credit card debt is £67.5 billion which equates to £2,500 per household.*
So, if you are in trouble you are not the first. The attitude particularly with with credit card debt might be not to not to stick your head in the sand but tell the company as soon as possible, the earlier the better. Credit card spending can induce a certain anaesthesia, especially if you have three or four credit cards. I long ago substituted debit cards which although not romantic, keep you in the realm of reality.
- Source – The Money Charity figures for March 2017