I know that I said at the beginning of the year, all those days ago, that our year off from shopping was not about saving money. And it isn’t about that really. Or so I thought. Afterall, if I am not “in debt” then I am surely living within my means.
But over the past weeks (has it really only been 15 days?), as I consider needs versus wants and the huge blurry line that exists between the two, it sort of is about money. I mean, who wants to waste money on things that you are just going to turn around and give away?
The Secret History of the Credit Card was a PBS Frontline special a few years ago. The average American has $8000 of credit card debt and 35 million Americans only pay the minimum payment every month, which is only the interest.
Credit is no longer viewed as an earned privilege, where you had to have a job and demonstrate that you were worthy of a loan, Manning says. “This generation has been socialized [to feel] that it’s an entitlement to have these kinds of lifestyles. They don’t have to earn it. They don’t have to be disciplined to save. As a result, credit cards have become a kind of ‘yuppie food stamps.’ That’s a real serious impediment in terms of trying to inculcate basic financial literacy skills on this generation where they see all these abundant things in society that they think they deserve.”
Most people when questioned say that they didn’t use their credit card to survive during a crisis, rather they built up that huge debt one $30, $100, $200 purchase at a time. I can see how easily that could happen, remember my Target purchases for those 4 days right before Christmas? I do. I am still appropriately horrified by myself.
We carry no credit card debt. We pay the bill off at the end of every month. Now, there have been occasions when we have needed to make a large purchase, a new furnace comes to mind, and we have charged it. But every spare cent we have goes to pay it off as quickly as possible. Those interest rates will bury you faster than you can dig out.
Now I am hoping that we don’t even have a balance to pay off at the end of the month.