Funny story about getting my first computer. I was thinking about going back to college, and kept hearing that I'd need a home computer to do the job properly. This was about 1990, and really weren't common in the home; I was the first person most people I knew who actually bought one. Anyway, we went to the only place in town that sold computers on a payment plan, a furniture store. Walked out with a behemoth that ran on DOS 5 and came with Windows 2.0, top of the line back then. It came with drives for both 5.25 and 3 inch floppies. I paid extra for this thing that would allow me to get on the mysterious 'internet', where all the information was out there for the taking. Found out later the only way for someone in my area to get on this internet thing was to hook up our phone and dial a long distance number to the next county, and only a few things were available if you knew how to access them. The cost was $1600, but the store assured us that they'd carry the contract and payments were only $16 a month. What a steal!
Started college, and found that no one else in most of my classes had a computer. We used the home computer for a few games, writing assignments I could print out on the printer, etc. Found a catalogue of freeware and had fun with that. Screwed up the computer more times than I could count and had to reinstall DOS and Windows.
Finally we got in a position where we could look into buying a house. We went to the bank and were told that our income was pretty low, but doable if we didn't have outstanding debts. We learned from a credit freeware program about the credit reporting agencies and how to check on our credit rating and how to clear them. First, you asked the three main agencies to give you an accounting of your debts that they knew about. Private debts were only reported if the lender took pains to report the debt to them, and needed documentation to prove the debt.
If a bill was old, you asked the agencies to update the information. Sometimes you'd paid off the debt and the lender had failed to report it to the agencies. Sometimes the company has gone out of business and didn't respond to the request. Sometimes a company was sold to another company and your debt was written off by the original lender to make their own assests look better. Sometimes the lender couldn't be found. By law, once an agency couldn't verify the information within a certain amount of time, the debt was wiped from your account. Probably not applicable today as most monetary transactions are entered on computer these days.
When we were finally sure that everything from the past was paid off, we went to the bank. We were assigned a credit counselor and she told us to gather up anything we made monthly payments on and bring them in. We had a couple of medical bills, a vet bill, and the computer bill. We found out we'd actually paid off the cost of the computer had been paid off long ago, but still had a couple of years to go to pay off the interest. She said if we took out a bank loan to pay off our still outstanding debts, we could clear them off our credit record and then own only the bank, at a much better interest rate.
We were like "Interest rate? What is that? We've heard of it but never really bothered to learn what it was." Got a quick lesson on that, felt like fools for not paying attention to it before, and paid off those debts with the bank loan.