Alternatively titled: the one where I confess my bad shopping habits
Confession: I didn’t get my first credit card until I was 22.
That’s right, I went through most of college without succumbing to the pressure of free t-shirts, free mugs at the expense of an obscene interest rate credit card. I was proud of this! Granted, I struggled with money through much of my five years but that wasn’t because of debts more because workstudy wasn’t paying well and I had a partying habit to support with parents who didn’t help much (except when I really needed it. Which is more than I could have hoped for really.),
Of course, I got my first “line of credit” (not really a credit card) because I overdrew my bank account by a couple hundred dollars and didn’t really realize it. Not sure why they were willing to toss me a line of credit, but they did. I haven’t always been the best at managing finances. In fact, I’ll be the first to say that I’m downright horrible at it. So I managed to pay my minimums, but never really got around to paying it in full (though i did the first month or two actually) but then…
Confession: That line of credit? Was maxed out within a year.
I used it to pay for my final spring break. I mean, in retrospect, I probably shouldn’t have gone to London and Amsterdam, but after getting kicked off the Florida Spring Break Island by my pals one night on the T because they felt I was “drinking too much” I said screw that, I didn’t want to party with the retired in Fort Myers anyhow and bought a $300 or so ticket to London and later a $150 ticket to Amsterdam to visit a pal that I had frequently studied with (and I don’t even use that as an aside because all we ever really did was study together except in DC when we got drunk a few times together as interns). I withdrew $1000 to pay for my expenses that week.
Confession: I got my next two credit cards after I graduated college to help pay for rent when i was looking for a job. They may or may not have been maxed out within a year of getting them.
I later dropped $1k on a shopping spree on a credit card when then boyfriend/now hubs was out of town at a wedding with his gnarly ex. What?? I was jealous and stressed out by the whole thing! You’re telling me you wouldn’t go drop $1k if you were in my shoes and lived right next door to a mall??
What the HECK were these banks thinking giving a combined $5k of credit to a girl who didn’t have a job?! Shame on them? Well…ish. Shame on me for using said credit.
Confession: I should probably be in shopaholics anonymous. No really. I probably should be.
You see, I have shopping in my genes. My mom used to take my sister and I shopping just for shits and giggles once a week. It was what we did to pass the time and to spend time together. I grew up with shoppers. While, I took that habit and ran (seriously. Even through college my former best gay friend J and I used to go to Cambridgeside/Newbury Street on Wednesday afternoons freshman year to go shopping. The Ex wasn’t a big help in my shopping habits either.) my sister erred to the side of safety and now hates shopping and is a banker with sparkling credit that I envy.
I blame those (these?) habits (which I do not in fact blame entirely on my mother and father…only partly), as well as the fact that I didn’t grow up in a household where I was really educated on this kind of…stuff. No one warned me about credit cards. No one warned me about interest rates and what they mean and the consequences of having a credit card interest rate get hiked up to almost 30%. I just thought WOO! FREE MONEY!! Cha-ching! Cha-ching!!!
In retrospect…I probably didn’t need those clothes, the Longchamp bag, the Uggs, the laptop (after mine died. Well. I did need that.), the dvd’s, just…stupid material crap that I had no use for.
Finally, just because my score on Charles Schwabb’s quiz was…FAIR (shocker! I was expecting worse!) and just because I don’t have insurance yet (it kicks in in July!) or a 401k (I do have an ESPP though (edited: not stock options. I misunderstood the difference – which is a problem right there) and just because we don’t have any savings (which freaks me out a little more every day) doesn’t mean we don’t understand the consequences of these types of things. I/We do. Trust me – those credit card payments? Don’t think I don’t know what they could be going towards.
We’re in our twenties though, and I know everyone says that we should be building up security and blah blah blah, and I do agree, unfortunately, in this economy not everyone has the luxury of a super-awesome-paying job. Because we had that security. We were paying things down. We were on top of our bills and things were getting better. But when all that is swiped from underneath you? Sometimes you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do even if it’s not the best option (like using credit to move your butt half way up the East Coast for a job that made promises it didn’t keep…).
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned in your twenties about money? Did you ever make any stupid mistakes with credit cards??
Disclaimer: This post is part of the 20SB Blog Carnival: Friends & Money, sponsored by Charles Schwab. Prizes may be awarded to selected posts. The information and opinions expressed in this post do not reflect the views or opinions of Charles Schwab. Details on the event, eligibility, and a complete list of participating bloggers can be found here. They also just launched a Financial Check Up tool! (I got a 35!!! I know. Awful right?!) Check out rules and find other participants here!