Financing the American Dream

My colleague Stephen Smith used these two clips to introduce a discussion we had about the the history of consumption and the New Frugality. Household Finance Corporation was a major lender to working and  middle class families. It was during the 1930s that buying on installment was presented as the “new thrift.” The depression years were when “many of the important groups in society cooperated in redefining ‘thrift’ as wise spending, rather than saving pure and simple,” according to the Coolidge-Consumerism Collection at the Library of Congress.

My favorite line in the Household Finance Corporation video: “Household loans are made to get families out of debt.”

The other clip is from the early 1950s. The war was over, and families were moving to the suburbs, buying homes and cars. The purchases were made on borrowed moeny. Ford is making the case for owning two cars in Two Ford Freedom.