Like many college students, I wanted to keep up with the crowd. From buying the nicest clothes to carrying a designer handbag, I was always in competition with others. Unfortunately, this led to mounting credit card debt and a hard lesson later in life.
I thought it was okay to get into credit card debt, as long a I made the minimum payment every month.
While true to a certain extent, making only the minimum payment is not a suggested practice. It may keep creditors off your tail, but it also means paying a lot of money in interest and dragging out the payback term for several months, if not years.
By the time I graduated, I was tied down by more than $13,000 of credit card debt. Worse yet, the debt was spread across four different cards.
“The more stuff my friends bought the more stuff I bought, and I never thought twice about it.”
In today’s society, more people than ever are trying to keep up with the Jones’. If somebody else buys a new handbag, you have to get one that is bigger and better. As juvenile as it sounds, it is a habit that many people are accustomed to, not just students in high school and college.
The worst part of the whole thing is that I had no idea until later on that my friends were doing the same thing. They weren’t buying anything with cash, instead, they were relying on credit cards just like me.
Although I have escaped credit card debt after three years of struggling, I have yet to shake the feeling that is accompanied by financial disaster.
Below are three points I want to share in hopes that my mistakes can help others avoid a similar fate:
- If you don’t have the money to payoff your credit card bill in full you should not buy the item – follow this advice and you will never find yourself in my position.
- The trip back from credit card debt is long and arduous. Make sure you understand how to properly use credit cards before activating a single one.
- No matter your age, make sure you understand the terms and conditions of the credit card you have chosen. The fine print matters.
I feel like I was one of the lucky ones who found myself in credit card debt and eventually climbed out of this financial hole. I hope that hearing stories like mine will give people the insight necessary to be wise with credit cards.