In the 1930s, almost 10 percent of [American] Christmas spending was financed with money squirreled away into Christmas clubs—bank accounts … helping consumers save for the holiday. Participants promised to contribute weekly, frequently as little as $0.25 at a time. …

Since 1970, by contrast, the explosive growth in consumer credit has had the opposite effect, helping consumers fall prey to their lack of self-control when it comes to borrowing. In recent years, one-third of [American] holiday spending is still not paid off two months after Christmas.

Joel Waldfogel

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Argonaut: someone engaged in a dangerous but potentially rewarding adventure.
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