Being in debt historically never seemed to be a good thing. It appears that since the beginning of time, it has been cultivated and ingrained in the brains of people that as long as you are in debt – you can’t sleep well. Some noble men of the distant past would rather commit suicide rather than declare bankruptcy and admit that they have amassed a lot of debt. Debtor’s prisons up to the middle of the 19th century used to be a common way to deal with unpaid debt. In some early states of a distant past, if you couldn’t pay debt you could even become a slave of a creditor.
Things have changed quite a bit since then. Bankruptcy laws in most countries generally protect debtors from suffering the consequences of unfortunate events. Aggressive marketing of credit products in our day and age encourages us to take on more debt. Starting from their late teens, people are being aggressively targeted by credit card companies and banks offering starter accounts. Student loans are available in many countries to people who are just starting their adult lives – and wouldn’t mind starting it with a large debt. These days it is almost impossible to find a person who doesn’t have credit in some shape or form. And most people do not consider this wrong or immoral.
At the same time, compared to reckless spenders who amass expensive credit card debt and never seem to be in control of their own finances, there are people on the other end of the spectrum who would do anything possible not to owe anything to anyone, for whom being debt-free is still considered the ultimate goal. Many people celebrate paying out their mortgage in full (possibly, the largest debt every person has), as if it were some very significant achievement. Personal finance gurus preach from pages of countless books that being in debt is bad and you should do anything possible to repay it sooner. Scared of the uncertainties, a lot of people still prefer to buy stuff with cash or not buy it at all. Whipping out a wallet and paying for everything upfront seems to be give some people the ultimate pride of being in total control.