My parents warned me. They told me over and over again how living the life of a 18 year old was great and carefree, but that it was a good thing to try and not be TOO carefree. I didn’t listen. I got my first Visa card application in the mail and felt instantly like a million bucks. I will never forget my first splurge. Bras & panties in an array of colors from the local mall’s Victoria’s Secret. I don’t know why I remember that exactly, but for some reason it sticks out in my mind. I was completely freed from my parents in two distinct ways. The first was of course the freedom to pick out and purchase my own undergarments without any comments from mom intruding on my joy. “RED underwear?! My goodness, isn’t that a little SUGGESTIVE?!”
The second was the fact that I had financial freedom.
The freedom had me down in chains a little quicker than I thought possible. My first Visa bill statement was reasonable and more importantly, payable. So were the second and third. But then costs started to mount, interest came into play, and then I came home for the summer while the bills went to my college housing, and suddenly it was 3 months overdue. 4 months. Then it was Christmas and I just couldn’t possibly make a payment because hello, I obviously had to spend my money on gifts for others. The credit agency would understand. I was merely being charitable.
Now I am 24 and reeling from the consequences. I got married last October, and still my in laws had to cosign for our first apartment. Why? Because even though both my husband and I had full time stable jobs, my credit was trashed. We have looked into applying for home loans and the banks have all but told us it is impossible, at least for the next 7 years as we fix…you guessed it…MY credit. My husband, my soul mate, my partner in life is suffering because of MY mistakes.
I am not saying this to be overtly dramatic or scare you into being anally responsible and driving your friends and family mad with your immaculate fiscal responsibility. But I am stating the facts. I didn’t think that credit was that big of a deal, and now I am suffering the consequences. I am singing the same ” I didn’t think it could happen to me” song from the world of recovering alcoholics and drug addicts, only my tune is even a little more bittersweet. Recovering substance abusers can choose who they share that with. My little “issue” is displayed on a computer screen to banks, credit card companies, mortage companies, department stores, my employer, and pretty much anyone else who wants to find out. I have the scarlet letter of debt pinned to my life and there isn’t exactly an easy escape.
Get a credit card, sure. But only get one. Or maybe two if you have been complimented on the past on our great self control and ability to pay things on time. But be careful. Don’t end up like me. It isn’t worth it. Debt isn’t fun, and an indebted reputation is even worse.