Little cards take big bite

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 26, 2004

How many credit cards did you receive this week? All week, our mailbox has been filled with a lot of junk mail, but the credit cards take the cake.

Pre-approved and alluring me with a 0% APR, they tell me I can use the card if only I will call the activation number on the sticker. Of course, after reading the fine, make that very fine, print, I immediately divided that 0 % rate with a pair of kitchen shears. That alluring little zero turns into an ugly 14% in six months-make that right after I go out and have a blast with that little silver piece of plastic.

You know it’s really odd how we can let a simple thing like that thin strip of plastic wheedle its way into our lives, causing havoc for those who don’t have the training to handle such a hot commodity.I’ve seen people nearly ruin their marriages thanks to those little cards that can cut the tie that binds quicker than any sword. I firmly believe that credit management, or a financial understanding course, should be a required subject in every high school in this nation.

Nowhere is a person taught how to handle these seemingly harmless little cards that can be so helpful, especially if you are young and unacquainted with credit.Think of the college student with all their needs. How about the newlyweds

trying to establish a home? Then, bless their hearts, there are the single moms who struggle every day just to keep a roof over their family’s heads. They sometimes even know the credit card will come back to bite them, but

they can’t think of that when their child is in need.

I won’t go any further with examples because I’m sure we all know of people that have run themselves into bankruptcy or worse because of these credit cards. There is only one thing to do when you receive one of the harmless looking

little cards… cut the thing in half like its some type of monster that will devour you if its let loose.

Now, I’m sure there are some out there who can perfectly well manage a credit card, but with the staggering debt in this country, $7.2 trillion in household debt at the close of 2000, I’m sure that most of us can’t handle a credit card.

Credit cards are like alcohol abuse, cigarettes, and all our other nasty little habits; destructive. They might as well be Satan, roaring around like a lion, looking for whom he may devour, and just like those Romans the credit card companies are feeding that lion by luring debtors with their cards.

Credit cards have become common in the lives of most Americans. In 1980, 56 percent of American adults had at least one credit card. Now, that number has grown to 76 percent. Almost anyone can get some type of credit card, and

the companies want even more American spenders, and they lure through with mailings, television commercials, the Internet or booths in malls and colleges. In fact, the average household receives eight card offers each month.

Also, people don’t just use a card for necessities, but they have come to rely on credit cards for a huge variety of purchases as more places, like movie theaters, McDonald’s and online stores, accept them.

Last year alone, we charged more than $1 trillion with credit cards alone. All because it comes down to instant gratification-I have to have it and I have to have it now!

Now really… do you not agree that its time for educational institutions to begin teaching a curriculum including financial strategies? They should teach students to determine the difference between just &uot;getting by&uot; and living &uot;comfortably.&uot; Show them how to budget a fixed income and how to balance a checkbook. Most importantly, teach them to calculate percentages based upon interest earned and taxes paid, and show them that $5,000 in debt can result in an astronomical amount of interest that will take years to repay even if it doesn’t drive you into bankruptcy.

Ignorance leads to disobedience. Disobedience means &uot;you in a heap of trouble.&uot; One cannot learn what they have not read or heard and how many of us were taught anything other than &uot;be a good girl?&uot; I would venture to guess that most parents do not teach financial responsibility to their children. It’s hard enough to get them to listen to &uot;be home by 11.&uot;

From what I’ve observed, I believe that finances are one of the last and most powerful strongholds Satan has on people. The financial difficulties creep in so insidiously that most people do not even realize that the monster has moved in and taken over their lives. When you sign that little credit card slip that’s your pledge to repay the debt, no matter how many years it takes.

Well, that’s my word of caution to those that I care for; my readers. Consider the implications of all those little pieces of plastic. If you will excuse me now; I have to go find my scissors.