This is the fifth post of a Friday series called “You’re a sucker to….” which explores whether conventional financial wisdom is necessarily the best advice out there. Everyone’s situation is different; if you’re doing something that I tell you you’re a sucker to do, it doesn’t mean it’s bad or wrong. There’s just other options out there that you should be aware about. You can read the rest of the series here.
Credit cards are the double edged sword of finance. Used correctly, they can be used to get out of financial emergencies, used to accumulate reward points or for countless other financial conveniences.
On the other hand, used incorrectly, they can be the biggest contributor towards consumer debt. The interest rates are often sky high and the convenience can be a contributor towards somebody getting into financial problems. They’re the needle to someone with a spending addiction.
For the sake of argument, let’s divide people into two groups. There are those people who have their financial lives together, (or are working towards it) and those who don’t. If you’re part of the first group, you know all about the evils of credit cards. You also know how to use them responsibly. I have no idea why everyone in that group doesn’t have one or two credit cards they use and then pay off every month just for the rewards.
Then there’s group two. This will probably be the only time you’ll see a religion reference on this blog, but it’s the best comparison I can think of. Just like religion, these people need to find Jesus before they can truly be saved. Before a person finds Jesus, if they go to church they’re only going through the motions. Once they develop that belief, they turn into a whole new person. Those of us who are so passionate about money have found the financial Jesus.
Why does your girlfriend not care about your stock market investments? Why does your neighbor continue to piss away money on a new car? Why do so many people continue to charge crap on credit cards? Because they haven’t found financial Jesus yet. And until they do, you’re absolutely wasting your time and energy convincing them otherwise.
In the meantime, they might as well enjoy the benefits of a credit card. Regular readers will know I’m planning on travelling soon. Thanks to having a credit card, booking the flight and hotel was as easy as a few clicks of the mouse. I never have to worry about forgetting to pay a bill again, as they all come off my credit card automatically. I use the bank’s money for free, and they give me a cash back reward for the privilege. It’s not that hard to figure out how bad credit card interest is. It’s just a matter of finding financial Jesus.
Credit cards don’t make people get into financial hardship. People make themselves get into financial hardship. Until people start to care about the results of their spending, they’ll keep making the same mistakes. Finding the answer to your financial woes is a Google search away. Once someone finds financial Jesus, the rest is easy.