In the late summer after working all summer, I would take my hard-earned money and go to Marshall's to buy my back-to-school clothes. I don't know if Marshall's still does this, but the one I shopped in back then had lay-a-way. So I would pick out my jackets, jeans and a few other clothing items, make a down payment and pay a little on my items each week until I paid it off and could take my purchases home. This allowed me to be independent and buy my own clothing in my own time-frame. I didn't have to make a purchase on credit (or rather my parent's credit) and this taught me how to put money aside for a goal.
With people working to pay down credit cards and other outstanding debt, wouldn't lay-a-way be an option for larger purchases that people don't have the money for up front? This would keep people from stopping spending on non-essential items all together because they wouldn't have to use credit. Just a thought...It will be interesting to see how much (or little) the American public spends this holiday season, because many people are talking about how they are feeling the pinch with higher gas costs and worrying about retirement and college savings. Anyone thinking about buying a home anytime soon will also have to bring a lot more cash to the table because mortgage loans qualifications are more stringent.
I think people (myself included) need to go back to the spending habits I had as a teen; putting money aside for goals such as long-term saving, a vacation or a piece of clothing instead of using credit or not saving. There is no better satisfaction than paying for something in cash and knowing you can afford it.