How many of you have credit cards? Raise your hand.
Mine is up, very reluctantly. We were credit card free for several years and SOMEONE got a card last year without consulting me. That same someone is responsible for paying it off. Grr. I hate credit cards.
My oldest children, Maybelline and Oatmeal Head, are about to turn 18 and 17. Maybelline will be a senior this coming year and Oatmeal Head a Junior. They're learning to drive (doing pretty well) and have their own jobs and bank accounts. It's all good. So far.
I've been thinking a lot about how to counsel them concerning money. We don't do too well with it ourselves. But I want better for my kids, y'know? And an analogy struck me. Probably one you've heard, but it was new to me. Credit cards are like drugs. So here's what I plan to talk to my kids about. We've already told them that credit cards are the spawn of Satan, but kids don't really listen, so I want to drive the point home in a way that makes sense. Since numbers don't make sense to any of us (interest, blah blah blah).
Drugs. Why does a person do drugs? Initially another person will push the drug on you, right? Say all kinds of seemingly harmless things about it. Whatever. Everybody's doing it. And the drug makes you euphoric, or calms you down, or whatever it is you need to feel. It masks the real issue you're having, rather than forcing you to face into your problems and deal with them.
Next time you're depressed, or needing a lift, it's so much easier to reach for a drug than to look yourself in the eye and ask the tough questions, or to wade through to the other side of the feeling. It becomes a very bad, destructive habit.
Oh, but I can quit anytime I want. Yeah. Right.
VISA sends out letters offering credit cards to college students. Everybody's doing it. Saying all kinds of seemingly harmless things about getting a card. And using the card the first time brings a sense of euphoria or calm or whatever you need to feel. Buy a new iPad and not have to pay for it right away? ROCK ON.
Rather than learn to budget or tighten the belt, the credit card makes it easy to buy impulsively and not face into the real issues. Why do you NEED that right now? What are you masking by using that card? What hole are you filling with an impulse buy?
Then you run out of money at the end of the month. And you need food. Well, there's ramen and beans in the cupboard, but it's not burgers. So you use what little is left on that card to buy consumables. That you'll pay interest on.
Oh, but you can quit any time you want. Yeah. Right.
Maybe this is how I can talk to my kids about credit cards. I don't want anyone to own them. They don't understand, because they haven't lived enough, and because we haven't been the best examples, what debt and financial oppression look like. I'm not necessarily afraid for them, but I'd like it if they left my house doing life well. At least halfway well.
*sigh* We'll see.
Until I write again ...