Thursday, April 24, 2014

My First Credit Card

Something really adult happened to me this week. I was approved for my first credit card. (From Old Navy!) As soon as I saw that I had been approved, I felt overwhelmed with responsibility and adulthood. I don't want to rack up a bunch of debt. I don't want to be sucked in by the whole "shop now, pay later" mindset. Basically I was worried about my ability to be responsible with this card.

I took two "finance" classes in high school. I learned how to write a check and how to balance a checkbook (Am I the only one who doesn't do this? I just watch my online statements for anything that looks fishy.) The classes  warned us about the dangers of credit cards, but I never learned about the importance of building credit. The message was "Don't open any credit cards because you are irresponsible and go into horrible debt that will take over your life." We watched testimonies of parents whose children had committed suicide because their debt was so overwhelming. And while I think it was important to learn what can happen if you are irresponsible, I think it would have been equally important to learn what can happen if you are responsible with your credit card.

The scare tactic worked - I didn't open a credit card until 6 years after I took that class. I don't have credit card debt, but I don't have credit either, making it more difficult to do adult things like buy a car or a house. I think that if the topic had been approached in a more positive way, like "Opening a credit card is a big responsibility. If you handle it well, you can work your way to earning even bigger responsibilities, like a new car or a new home," I wouldn't have avoided it for so long. The lesson could have been a very teachable moment instead of just a fear-inducing lecture. I manage my finances well and consider myself a relatively responsible person in general. I want to work my way towards bigger purchases, and I think having all of the information at a young age would have inspired me to begin that process.

I'm not going to go crazy with this card, but I do need more business casual clothes for my new job. I plan to limit my purchases and only buy what I know I can afford that month. Adulthood, I'm coming for ya.

How do you manage your credit card spending?



2 comments:

  1. Okay, I'm going to be realllllll honest here. Store credit cards do not do much for building your credit if at all. They're interest rates are kind of ridiculous, and they're often referred to as the worst possible credit cards available ever. I don't say those things to scare you--I just want you to know the truth. If you want to build your credit, you are better off getting a general visa and purchasing one thing a month that you've budgeted for (say--use the card only for gas and at the end of the month, pay the card off in full). That will do wonders for building your credit! If there is one moment in my ENTIRE life that I regret more than anything at all, it's the moment I said "yes" to opening a store credit card. They prey on young adults (especially college women/just out of college). I know a lot of people have store cards and as long as you operate it with responsibility, you should be fine--but as far as building your credit goes--it won't do much for ya.

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  2. I just got my second one - chase shaphire preferred. My first one was simply to build credit but rarely used it. This one, I am going to use it for apt dues (since I have to pay them anyway!) and immediately pay it off every week so I can see what I am doing. Its great for points/rewards but definitely be careful with the interest rate!

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