What You Think Credit Cards Are Like vs. What They Are Actually Like

Growing up with less than a lot, money has been a big deal my entire life. I’ve always been hyper sensitive to it no matter the value and I’ve never understood people who open their purse and “stumble upon” a $20. If I found $20 in my purse I would be cheering and throwing a Red Wedding style party in it’s honor, minus all that death.

Being so aware of what I didn’t have, I day dreamed a lot. I thought about the wonder it must be to have it and lots of it. What it would be like to look at a price tag and blink carelessly at the amount. What it would be like to live like Cher from Clueless and just charge my wardrobe with my BFF, Dionne.

gurl.com
gurl.com

Cher and Dionne barely worried about a house chore let alone a credit card statement. But statements are very real and Clueless is just a movie.

Like Cher and Dionne, I often fantasize about giving curly-haired Jersey girls make overs and charging credit cards to decimal points that rival Pi. But I’m always so quickly reminded that I’m not a 16-year-old Beverly Hills resident with a plethora of credit cards at my disposal. In fact, there is a lot those girls and I don’t have in common that the real world so quickly taught me.

Credit Card Fantasy:

I’m going to apply for a bunch of credit cards to have a variety to choose from. Since credit cards are for emergencies only, I need one for the different types of emergencies I’ll likely go through.

Credit Card Reality:

Credit cards aren’t there for your greedy consumption like a wheel of brie at a girl’s night. There is an approval process credit card companies run you through to make sure you’re worthy of having one of their cards. Think of it like Gretchen Wieners not getting any candy canes when Glen Coco did. But because the real world isn’t fair and your income, bad credit history, short or minimal credit history or your unemployment can play a role in your approval, not everyone gets one.
The best thing for you to do is to check your credit score and anything else credit card companies might access first. Before a total stranger checks your personal information, make sure you know what it looks like. If you see something strange, look into it and fix it. If you see perfection, give me your social sec…..just kidding!

Credit Card Fantasy:

Yippee!! I ignored all advice and applied for 8 credit cards…and got approved! It’s a good thing that I have a lot of them, it shows I’m responsible with a ton of debt.

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Credit Card Reality:

In a recent article published by USAToday, 21% of people [surveyed] ages 18-29 had more credit card debt than they had money in their savings account. With those types of stats, please elaborate how you plan on affording your credit card spending habits?

It’s 100% true that the best way to build really good credit is to have a few types of active cards, loans or debts. It does show you can balance them but don’t go nuts. Open as many as you can afford, even if that’s only 1 or two. Credit cards aren’t a means to live, they are a necessary evil to prove to strangers you’re worthy of more debt.

Credit Card Fantasy:

Fuck…Those 8 cards wrecked me and I’m about to be living in my Louboutin shoe box. I’ll just cut up my cards and my life will return to broke bitch status.

buzzfeed.com
buzzfeed.com
Credit Card Reality:

Cutting cards up is Hollywood’s way of symbolizing the character’s poor financial habits. Putting them in your freezer or flushing them down your toilet won’t get you more than a massive plumbing bill.

If you have absolutely no self control then yes, you can cut up your cards. But that’s step 1. The second step is to actually handle your finances like an adult and pay back the money you spent. Once you get caught up on your bills, determine how many you can manage.

Fun Fact: Credit scores take into consideration the length of time you’ve had the open accounts. Cutting up your cards and closing your accounts can actually counteract the score you were building

Credit Card Fantasy:

I can’t do this. I’m officially scared shitless and refuse to get a credit card. I’m perfectly fine with having a credit score of 7.

giphy.com
giphy.com
Credit Card Reality:

Very stupid. Credit cards are scare if you let them be. Figure out what type of credit card you really want and all the things you would buy with it. Write that down and throw it away.

Go apply for a credit card for the exact opposite reasons at a store with limited tantalizing supplies. Pick a card that you commit to only putting gas, groceries or absolute essentials on it. Once you get the hang of affording your bananas, you can expand your credit repertoire.

A lot of why growing up is hard is because our younger years were learning about a bunch of things that won’t matter later. When we finally get to later, we’re blindsided with a bunch of things that don’t make sense but couldn’t be more significant.

My best advice is to learn while you’re young all the things they glazed over in your Home Economics sewing class. Because my dreams of being a 1950s housewife were crushed by my birth year, I really could have used a credit card course or 20.

2 thoughts on “What You Think Credit Cards Are Like vs. What They Are Actually Like”

  1. Ben!!!! You are beyond lucky because credit and credit cards are so difficult for people to 1. understand fully and 2. take seriously. Good for you on being so close to debt free! 😀

  2. My dad worked for a credit card company growing up, so we learned early and often that you only use a credit card for emergencies and for things you can afford to pay off in a month. I laugh or cry when I hear people use them to pay over time. It’s incredible to know how much more you pay for something when any sort of interest in involved. Because of that and because of my dad’s help in certain things my credit rating is way high and even though I don’t make a whole lot, I’m way closer to being debt free than most people that make three times a much as I do.

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