Tuesday, January 29, 2008

My love-hate relationship with Credit cards.

First in the series. (To make you come back and read some more. And to keep the posts from being ridiculously long.)
My journey on the road to Credit card debt began in college. When I graduated high school, I knew that I had no credit. I knew this, because no one was willing to lend me money to go to college. Other than the federal government, which didn’t cover my first year fully. Finally, I got a “loan” from my Grandmother for $6000 that covered my first year of schooling. I knew I needed to begin a credit history and build it. Credit cards, I thought. I thought I knew how to handle it, and for a while, I did. My mother counseled me to only use it for things that I had the money for. Which I did, for a while. Of course, it was easier then. I got my Capital one card as a freshman. They sent me an offer, and I applied, and was approved for a whopping sum of $200. I was ECSTATIC! I used it to pay for my books, and then promptly paid it off. I was so proud. I had a credit card (and it has Van Gogh’s Starry Night on it, which is cool) and I used it wisely.
Fast forward to Feb 2005. I had received my student loan disbursements for the school year. They were enough to cover and then some. I needed a savings account! I went down to the local bank and opened up a savings account. I had opened a checking account with them previously, so it made sense to use the same bank. At this point, online high-yield savings accounts were rather scary to me. Anyway, I opened my savings account and they said “your credit is so good we want to offer you a credit card. Here.” “Alright!” I thought. If one CC is good for your credit, 2 must be even better! It started at $5000! Shortly afterward, they upped it to $6500, then $7500! Then $12500!!!! Well, I put the brakes on there at $12500. I called the bank and requested they put a stop on my credit limit. I surely didn’t NEED $12500 in credit. That would be way too much. My poor little capital one was still at $200. (They caught on to that one, and upped it to $500 shortly there after. ) On Mar 28, 2006, I had $374.34 on it, and it was mostly school related, or from my Spring Break trip to Louisville, KY. Then we started booking our honeymoon. By July, it was up to $2700. Ouch. Looking at it now, I don’t even know what most of this stuff is. But I wasn’t worried. I was going to get a JOB! So, I moved to Utah in July of 06. I was living with Alann’s aunt and uncle, paying no rent, no board (Bless them for their kindness!). But, I was also making no money for a while. And I NEEDED! I needed clothes for work and gas for the car and Alann had no money to give me. What was a poor girl to do? CHARGE IT! And then there was the honeymoon of course. I needed stuff for that too. And we needed to buy stuff on it (mostly paid cash though). And then we bought the house at the end of August. By the time Alann moved out mid Sept, add another grand to the Credit card. And the house needed and the dogs needed and I needed and ya know what, my job just wasn’t paying as much as I thought it should have. By Dec 6, 06, it was up to $6500 dollars. Oh yeah, and then there was the day that we realized that Alann was paying 32% interest on his CC (late payments and such). So let’s write a convenience check for $5800. (Oops, forgot about the fee, OVERLIMIT!!! Did you know that if they charge you interest, and their interest puts you over the limit, they charge you another over limit fee??) In the course of a year, I went from $400 (a payable amount) to $12500 and then some. It makes me sick to look at it. Onward and upward is NOT a good slogan for Credit card usage. And did you know, that if you REQUEST a credit limit increase, they won’t do it. But they will do it all by themselves whenever they feel the need. By the way, don’t EVER allow the cell phone company to charge your card if you carry a balance. And so ends the loving, and the beginning of the hating of all things plastic and square.

1 comment:

Bowles Family said...

Oh my poor Becca! It is so unfun being worried about money and having it loom. I swear all high school students should have a mandatory class their senior year about money/credit management since college is when you get in the most trouble and it takes so long to dig out. Keep at it . . .you'll get rid of it and then get to have that awesome feeling of freedom. I love you! It was fun seeing you for a few minutes today. Mentioning that you would be at Daddy's work was what got Weston out of Toys R Us without a tantrum today too. You're so helpful in my parenting. ;)