Credit Cards Are The Devil

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That pretty much describes my mood for the week. The following is a perspective I contributed to our paper, the Hilltop.

When I left for college, a friend of mine sat me down, looked deep into my eyes, and gave me some heartfelt advice: “Don’t you come back here broker than you already are!” Four years later, I’m knee deep in student loans and have credit cards out the wazoo. While there was no way to avoid taking out additional educational loans, I certainly could have learned to spend my money wiser.

I won’t say credit cards are the enemy per se. That simply is not realistic. One must establish credit somehow, and when choosing your spending habits wisely, what better way to build your credit than with credit cards? On the other hand, credit cards aren’t exactly like your best friend. Think of them more as a trifling relative. Sure, you love them (mainly because you have to), but that does not mean you have to see them frequently. Try that approach with credit cards.

Soon you will be bombarded with brochures, emails, and maybe the occasional phone call from credit card companies hoping to lure you into the fold. Be afraid. Be very afraid. Should you enter the world of credit, try doing a little research. Compare interest rates. Avoid store issued credit cards, as they don’t help you build your credit in the least. Try applying for credit cards specifically geared towards students.

Don’t spend your money on frivolous items. Don’t buy that third iPod. You can watch Boomerang on HBO – it comes on almost daily. Do you really need that shirt in that many colors? Let them pay their own bond. The last one was a joke, but you get the idea. The bare essentials: Books (for my friends without book vouchers), food (Chinese food isn’t going to pay for itself), and the occasional trip to the mall (you can’t look busted at the club). Just try not to splurge and ask yourself the tough questions, for instance, “Do you really need that McFlurry?” It’s just going to melt by the time you hike back to your dorm anyway.

When I told my mother I got a credit card, she asked, “What job do you have?” I quickly answered “None”, and she replied, “I hope you know my job isn’t paying your bill.” She then assured me that if I ever reached into her purse to find some monthly minimum payment money, I would pull back a nub. Right about now, I wish I did have that nub: It would make pulling those credit cards from my wallet all the more difficult.

As I enter my senior year at Howard University, I look back on all of my purchases and ask myself what in the world was I thinking and why didn’t anyone warn me? Let me make it plan for you: Credit card debt can make you sob at night – rebuke it. Consider yourself warned.

For anyone interested in throwing in a dollar or a thousand of them, get at me. Paypal gets it done.

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