I was in line at the grocery store the other day. As usual, I was running behind schedule and tried to pick the shortest line with the most efficient looking cashier. The line I chose had a great cashier, but it all ground to a halt when the most dreaded sight to a rushed shopper appeared. Someone pulled out a checkbook. My first thought when that happens is why don’t you get a credit card? Even Granny has a credit card, right?
Who Doesn’t Have a Credit Card?
Honestly, who on earth doesn’t have a credit card? The only demographic I can think of really are elderly people. While it may seem like they are behind the times, maybe they are the smart ones when it comes to paying off debt. I honestly love to have older people come into my optometry practice. They generally pick out what they know works for them and write a check for the full balance, while I often see younger people having to jostle around different credit cards to find a combination that isn’t maxed out to pay off their bills.
I found this article on Time’s website about how many young adults will never pay off their credit card debt. It is kind of sad that we live in a world of instant gratification, and many consumers are sacrificing their retirement years to pay back Visa for designer shoes that were discarded long ago. One thing both my Grannies never had was credit card debt. When did we lose the mentality of not buying things we can’t pay for?
Recipe for Credit Disaster
There was a teenager who came alone for an eye appointment a few months ago. She picked out an expensive pair of glasses and pulled out her Dad’s American Express. It was declined. After a whiny call to her father, she said he would be right there. I expected him to pick out something cheaper or wait to purchase glasses. Can you guess what actually happened? Yes, he pulled out a different card, paid the bill, and away they went.
Now maybe the declined card had a very low limit. Maybe they pay off their balance every month, but I somehow doubt it. I have certainly had a love/hate relationship with credit cards. It took hitting rock bottom with our finances in order to finally begin to use credit in a wise way. Rock bottom for us didn’t mean losing a house or going into bankruptcy, but lots of other people aren’t so lucky.
Good and Bad of Credit Card Use
If you are responsible, credit cards can be a cornucopia of rewards, an easy ways to track spending, and a faster checkout in the express lane. If you are not responsible, you could be paying off credit card debt when you’re old and gray. Before you give the person writing the check an evil eye, consider the pros and cons of using credit cards for everything. Maybe that person is making the smartest decision, even if it makes me late!