And if they could not scrimp and save enough, they would go without, and be have-nots.
Then came the advent of financial mechanisms, like hire purchase, which meant ordinary people could at last buy expensive items that they could only dream of owning before.
This ushered in a new era of haves, in which consumers who spend money they don’t have are cheered on and their debt is facilitated. It keeps consumerism ticking over. Banks can impose their charges and make money from your debt.
When people have the means to meet the repayment requirements, you could argue that everybody wins. Ordinary folk have better things and better lifestyles. New cars, new cookers, new washing machines...
As long as everything is under financial control, they can get by, and manage the debt.
If only that was the experience of everybody. In the real world, there are those who have been enticed by inducements into a pit of debt from which they cannot climb out. Temptation overcomes self-discipline.
Even those who have done all their sums are at risk. Currently, interest rates are low, but if they go up, which they surely will one day, then the calculations will have gone out of the window and affordable debt will have become unaffordable debt.
Hundreds of thousands of people already suffering the misery of sinking into debt will be helped by a new 60-day breathing space, which will see creditors held at bay and interest frozen, while professional debt advice is given to try to find a long-term way out. The Government is planning to introduce the scheme in early 2021. According to the Treasury it will help around 700,000 people in its first year.
Welcome, of course, but unless there is wider action on the “debt culture” there will simply be a new army of people in debt taking their place.
The latest national car sales figures proved good reading for Jaguar Land Rover.
The luxury car maker saw increases in sales of both Jaguar and Land Rover models in the UK last month, despite overall sales falling by 7.3 per cent.
JLR is proving that if you make the kind of cars that people want they will buy them.
It is good news for our area, where the engine manufacturing centre at the i54 business park employs 1,300 people.
Looking ahead, JLR is busy stepping up production of electric-powered models with a new battery plant to supply the EMC where the new electric motors will be assembled.
JLR has seen profits recover after sales in China returned to growth last year and new models were introduced.
The car giant’s action in implementing a £2.5 billion cost-cutting and restructuring programme last year seems to be paying off.
The Government’s announcement of a ban on the sale of petrol and diesel powered cars by 2035 is a cloud on the horizon for JLR, but one it is already preparing for.