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Even Granny Has a Credit Card

GrannyI 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!

Image: Freedigitalphotos.net

About Kim Parr

Kim Parr is a private practice optometrist, freelance writer, and personal financial blogger. You can follow her journey to 20/20 financial vision at Eyes on the Dollar.

21 comments

  1. I’m a supporter of credit cards once people understand them, have changed their mental attitude towards debt and will NEVER leave an outstanding balance on the credit card. It improves cash flow by a month, you can earn rewards, you have more consumer rights, etc etc.

    However, until people change their attitude, they should stick to chequebooks.

    Also, I’m a supporter of the word “cornucopia”!!
    moneystepper.com recently posted..The price to slice – should we pay supermarkets to slice our produce?My Profile

  2. I love credit card rewards…but if you cannot use credit cards responsibily then stick to debit cards or cash…checks?! I haven’t seen that in awhile at a store. People who don’t use credit usually just pay cash.
    Andrew@LivingRichCheaply recently posted..Should We Buy a Co-op?My Profile

  3. I think we’ll go beyond the plastic eventually and have something like barcode scanners implanted in our eyes as newborns and all we do is look at the cashier when we’re checking out to pay for our stuff. OK maybe that that extreme, but look how much our smartphones are doing now. I can’t imagine what technologies there will be in the future. I do admire the way our grandma’s and grandpa’s used to live on a cash type basis. If it was in your hand, you had money, and if you didn’t…
    Budget and the Beach recently posted..What’s Your Definition of Rich?My Profile

  4. You know I don’t think plastic will ever go away…it’s the most secure way to pay. I’m not surprised credit card spending is up. I recently read a study that came to the conclusion that when consumers have less, the feel a sudden urge to spend more! With the hard times many have been facing, credit cards may be the only way for them to spend more. It’s unfortunate that people wind up in debt. However, I have to say that it’s an issue of under-education rather than over-use. If people understood credit cards better, chances are, they wouldn’t use them in such horrible ways! Thanks for the great read and what I believe will be a great discussion started around this topic!
    Josh at CNA Finance recently posted..How To Make A Budget Spreadsheet That Makes Budgeting Fun!My Profile

  5. Ha! We had this happen to us last weekend. Not only did the woman pull out a checkbook, but she waited to begin writing until everything was already rung up and bagged….then when she received her receipt she stood and reviewed it without moving (and, of course, found something she thought was a discrepancy).

    Credit cards are interesting. I assume that nobody even tracks their expenses anymore because people always seem shocked when I want my receipt.
    AverageJoe recently posted..My Wife Is Pregnant — Is It The Right Time To Purchase Life Insurance?My Profile

  6. I also had to hit the bottom before I changed my mindset. I took a 4 year break from credit cards, but that time taught me a lot about them and how to use them properly. Now, I use them for every purchase and pay it off. The rewards are quite nice!
    Grayson @ Debt Roundup recently posted..Sub-Prime Borrower Mortgage OptionsMy Profile

  7. I remember when my mom kept trying to get my gram to use at least her debit card instead of her checkbook. Gram would always say, “Ok” and then go right back to the checkbook! She felt safe with it. =)
    Mrs. Pop @ Planting Our Pennies recently posted..Data Driven Marketing – Cool & Convenient or Creepy?My Profile

  8. Great reminder of the dangers of Credit Cards. As our Get out of Debt strategy we outlawed all card use. We’ve out of debt for 2 years now and we use a single reward card that we pay off each week. Best we’ve felt in years.

    As far as the seniors are concerned, more power to them! However, I wouldn’t mind them being in someone else’s line :)
    Joe@IGotOuttaDebt.com recently posted..New Financial Resource AvailableMy Profile

  9. 10,000 a second? That’s incredible. I would only expect that to increase in the future. I would bet the girl had a low limit on that card because otherwise she would spend more! Just a guess ;)
    DC @ Young Adult Money recently posted..The Weekly Quick Hits RoundupMy Profile

  10. My wife and I haven’t used credit cards in several years. We use a debit card or cash. And I’m the person in the checkout line writing a check at Costco, feeling the eyes glaring at me from the next person in line. :) I write fast though.
    Brian @ Luke1428 recently posted..My Fantasy Football Obsession: Finding Life BalanceMy Profile

  11. All credit cards are BAD. Use a debit card. No one ever got rich on stupid reward points. If you write a check, complete everything but the amount before you get to the checkout – when you go in the store know your method of payment is via check.

  12. I like the idea of using credit cards for rewards but in all honesty sometimes I buy more than I would if I use cc. Right now I don’t use them at all because I’m afraid I’ll over spend and I am working on some important savings goals. Maybe in the future though.
    Alexa recently posted..Budget Cutters: Saving EVEN MORE on FoodMy Profile

  13. My mother did not have a credit card until she was in her sixties. She along with my father built 2 businesses, owned 2 homes and 2 cars. All without any debt. She handled her credit card the same way and paid her balance off every month. She had her card into her nineties!
    krantcents recently posted..4 Ways to Get Past the Resume GatekeepersMy Profile

  14. I hate the checkbook people too! While you are queuing can’t you already write the date, the store’s name and sign it so you only have to write the amount? I used to see little printers that would fill the check for you but I imagine since no one uses checks anymore they got progressively removed I don’t see them much now.
    Pauline recently posted..August blog income and stats recapMy Profile

  15. I hate credit cards, it only higher your expenses,
    credit cards are “you think you have money” but they truly are “you have no money” it is debt and the interest is too dam high!
    and it’s funny how banks insist on settling the balance before the first of each month and your pay check always comes after the first of the month so you are doomed haha!
    Credit cards are theft!
    Mitch recently posted..Free CV Builder, Free Resume Builder, cv templatesMy Profile

  16. I live by my credit card. Luckily, I’ve never hit rock bottom nor have I had to pay interest. I just charge everything, pay it off immediately, and reap the cashback rewards. I’m a credit card companies worst nightmare and I love it :)

  17. It doesn’t concern me much. I think that more and more people are turning to credit cards for the churn. As long as these people spend within their means and don’t go into debt, I see no issue.
    Jon @ MoneySmartGuides recently posted..5 Simple Ways to Cut Car Insurance CostsMy Profile

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