In my 20s, I was the poster child for how to not handle credit cards responsibly. I had heard all the vast wisdom about not charging more on your credit cards in a month than you can pay off before the end of the billing cycle. I was even given an example. My grandmother paid off all her credit cards at the end of every month. I should strive to be like her.
The Taboo of Finances
Well, finances and income was a taboo subject with my grandmother and in my own household. It was the equivalent of talking about sex or doctor’s visits. It wasn’t done, so it wasn’t like I could ask her how she managed to pay off her credit cards every month.
Inevitably, the credit card people showed up with a folding table and credit card applications at my college campus. They were offering student credit cards and gifts for applying. I forget what the gifts were, but I wanted them so I filled out an application. Free was always in my price-range.
The First Credit Card
A few weeks later, my first credit card arrived with a $1000 dollar limit. I was ecstatic. I called the number and activated the card. I was positive I was moving up in the adult world. I had a credit card. I also had no income. I was a student living off student loans and work study and trying to pay for flight time out at the local airport.
The First Purchase
The first thing I charged on that credit card was lunch. I rarely had cash on me. Then I bought new clothes. Then I charged a flight to North Carolina for a vacation. It wasn’t long before I had spent through the limit on the credit card, so I applied for another credit card. This one had a limit of $2500 dollars. I charged flight time, gas, clothing, and more vacations. I even charged car repairs. I still had no income. I was using student loans to pay the minimum balances every month. It never occurred to me that it’d take 20 years to pay off the balances with the minimum payments. I’d worry about it later, like after college.
Free Money or Not
I think I looked at those credit cards like extra student loan money except I had to pay a little bit every month instead of waiting until six months after I graduated.
Six months after I graduated, I had six credit cards with a combined limit of $6000, and I had lent one of those six cards to my mother who was supposedly charging and paying the balance on it. She wasn’t, but I didn’t know because all the statements went to my childhood home.
I found out years later when a collection company called me to collect. I immediately called her. She’d take care of it. She never did, and in the meantime I couldn’t find work. All the credit cards in my possession went into default. I had $6000 in credit card debt and six times that in student loans. I was drowning in debt, and it was my own fault. The student loans I could put in forbearance. The credit cards punched large holes in my credit rating.
Collection agency calls became the norm, and I wondered why I didn’t follow the advice I had been given in the very beginning: Don’t charge more on your credit cards than you can pay off at the end of the month. Well, the answer was simple. I never had any income to pay off those credit cards. I was living well outside my means, and I had been living that way for years. I was the poster child for bad credit card management. I never should have applied for one in the first place, much less as a student.
Eventually, I got my act together and paid off those balances, but it took me eight years. To this day, I don’t have a credit card, and I don’t want one. I don’t even want the temptation of charging more than I can pay.
Stacey Carroll is the author of the thriller series - Avia. She also authors the paranormal erotica series - The Blooddoll Factory. Stacey grew up in Indianapolis, Indiana. she went to college at Indiana State University (ISU) and graduated with a Bachelor's degree in aerospace in the professional pilot program. She has flown Cessna 152s, Cessna 172s, the Pipe Seneca and the King Air. She also graduated with a minor in computer science that specialized in web design.
She has always been interested in reading and writing, and the first book she was ever read was the Grimms Brother's Fairy tales. From the ages of 6 to 11, she read the Nancy Drew series. By the age of 11, she had graduated to Stephen King novels. A few of her favorites include Carrie, Tommyknockers, The Dark Tower Series up to book 3 (That's where it stopped in the late 80s/ early 90s), Pet Semetary, The Shining, Night Shift, The Stand, It, Cujo, Christine, The Eyes of the Dragon and Thinner (Richard Bachman). In her teen years, she moved on to Anne Rice and got through about four of those books before they degraded. If you've ever read Anne Rice, you know book 5 isn't readable. Stacey has read a couple Harry Potter books as she was introduced to them in the early 2000s, and she's never read or watched anything Twilight or 50 Shades. Sorry. I'm a vampire purist, and nothing needs to be said about the latter. You already know.
She is currently an author and freelance writer. She received an honorable mention in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine in 2008 for a short story entitled The Field. In 2014, she was published in 13 Stories by Us by MacKenzie Publishing.
Other books by Stacey