Most people in Britain believe that it’s a good idea to save money and try to avoid being in debt. This is an important part of the culture, or at least it was in the past.

Magazine - Ice cream and banking

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Ice-cream and banking

By John Kuti

Russian ice-cream is great. Any shop or street seller can offer a choice of different ones for less than ten roubles, that’s about 20p in British money, which I think is a fair price. They have natural fruit flavours and they are made with thick creamy milk. I always feel good when I buy an ice-cream, and this article explains where that good feeling comes from. It’s not only because I like ice-cream.

In my childhood world of 1970s Britain, ice-cream was cheap. It was cheap because it was made in huge factories from a kind of margarine. There was very little milk in it at all, and I don’t think there was any cream. By the way, the inventor of this industrial process was a young chemist called Margaret Thatcher. (More about her later.)

Ice-cream was cheap, but my family was poor. My parents were poor and strict. They gave me pocket money, but I think this money was designed to be part of my moral education. It wasn’t for buying things with - it was for saving. So, when it began, my pocket money was 5p. Of course prices were different then – it was a period of high inflation. But my pocket money was never quite enough to buy an ice cream. I had to learn to wait until next week for ice-cream.

My parents would probably agree with the advice that Charles Dickens’ father gave him… "Annual income, twenty pounds; annual expenditure, nineteen pounds; result, happiness. Annual income, twenty pounds; annual expenditure, twenty-one pounds; result, misery." (In fact his father didn’t follow this advice but that’s another story.) Later, he put these words into the mouth of Mr. Micawber in his book David Copperfield.

Most people in Britain believe that it’s a good idea to save money and try to avoid being in debt. This is an important part of the culture, or at least it was in the past. One of the main motivations for the co-operative movement was to help poor people stop using credit from shop-keepers. Working class people put their money into “friendly societies” which helped when a member was ill, or one of their family died. They also set up building societies. Building societies at first only existed for the time it took to build houses for the members. They were an example of the philosophy of “self-help”. People would join together and save their money until they had enough to build a row of houses, or an estate. Often the streets were named after famous radicals of the period – liberal campaigners for democracy and against alcohol.

In the 1970s, Margaret Thatcher became a popular politician by saying that borrowing money was bad for governments too. It was an idea that lots of people liked exactly because their parents had told them that debt was immoral and that you should never spend more than you earn.

The world has changed plenty since then. Margaret Thatcher is now one of the most unpopular British politicians of all time. Some building societies still exist, but many of the biggest have become banks – that is to say they don’t have members. They are run in the same way as other big businesses and they just have customers. People in Britain seem to be quite relaxed about using the banks’ services – credit cards, overdrafts, loans of different kinds. In August 2004 the amount of debt in British families reached one trillion pounds. That’s £1,000,000,000,000 or £17,000 for every man, woman and child.

This is not all bad of course. A lot of people work in banks. London is the world centre for a lot of different sorts of financial activity. If we compare it with Frankfurt – where the European Central bank is, then the same number of people work in financial services in London as the whole population of Frankfurt. As for me, well, I have a credit card. But I only use it in emergencies: for example when I run out of money and feel like an ice-cream.

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I have never tried to borrow money from bank, I think it’s a good idea to borrow but pay back the same amount of money especially for someone who wants create e a business project when the bank can be a partner in this project.
Sometimes it’s difficult to save money especially for someone who is not well-payed, but it’s helpful for one who has emergencies things like intervention medical which request a big amount money sometimes.

I agree wholeheartedly that saving money in other not to get into debt is one of the best of way to have a good life without any tension of increasing interest rate. Sometimes you just have to act like you don't have much to spend just to cut off your high expenditure.

it is essential for every single society which want to developed and growing up there economy to spend less than they earn so the can make saving and invest those saving to make new incomes resources ,, however,, decades ago in my country the majority of people was trending to saving money ,,, lately i have noticed this view for saving money has changed for several causes ... nowdays to have a car became necessary due to crash of our transporting system .. thus people go to the banks and borrow money to buy cars which was over-option before 2 decade ..beside consuming approach became more major trend for the majority of inhabitants

I'm absolutely agree with the idea to save money and avoid being in debt, there's a proverb says: if you have-boil! If you don't have, be quite! This is the literal translation which may does not make any sense but actually it means, if you have money then spend as much as you like or desire and if you don't have any -stay quite without being upset. I'm not saying that borrowing money is completely wrong, no, sometimes you are in emergency need of money or something that requires it, and you are brook the only option ahead is to get loan. But there are people who love to always be in debt even though they are not in need of it, that's awkward.

    I think that is not a good idea to get in debt, the interest are high. If you save money, instead you pay more for a stuff(including the interest) you receive a discount, because you can pay with money in the moment of the acquisition. At about credit cars, I think it's a good idea for emergencies, but just for it. If you don't take care about your finances, if you star to have a life that you can't pay for it, you'll become a "slave" of the banks, because it'll be so difficulty to pay yours debts.

Well according to the news from the Euro Zone I think that British people are in debt to Margaret Thatcher. I think she should be granted the title of Prophet. The UK is out of the Euro Zone troubles and its pound is still alive. She may be hated by some people but honestly most British must be thankful for her right chosen avoided the lose of the pound. In fact it is difficult to take painful path although they are on the good way.

Discussion
Do you agree that it’s a good idea to save Money and try to avoid getting into debt?
I think getting into debt is a bad idea, because people spend more money than the earned, and they are not allowed to save money (unhappiness). Meanwhile saving money is a better strategy to stand crisis or unemployment times and is useful when you want to make for example an investment (start a business or to travel). Probably the only one scenario in which I would take a loan is for educational purposes, to pay the tuition fees when my income is not enough, is a kind of investment for my future.
About the article, I liked the part when he says that pocket money was more part of his moral education and is true in my case, because when I was a child, the pocket money given to me by my parents was not enough to boy things (such as toys, videogames, etc) and I was obligated to wait until Christmas or until my birthday.

 Dear Admin,
I just join this web but unfortunately i cannot do the exercise as instructed. The exercise did not appear at all except the text. I know i can print the whole exercises but i would prefer to do the exercise on the web. Could someone assists me on this?
Thank you. 

Dear Syima,
Sorry to hear about your problem. What do you see instead of the exercise? Do you see an error message or just an empty space? What web browser are you using?
Best wishes,
Adam
The LearnEnglish Team

 well it's always better to avoid getting into debt and we should not be relaxed about credit cards, debit cards and overdrafts. we ought to use them according to our income and capital, we have to be concerned about so many things when using them

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