February 12, 2018
Part One of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People talks about how oftentimes people need to experience a paradigm shift if they’re really going to change. In an effort to change my financial habits I thought about how I look at my credit card debt.
I got my first credit card when I was 19. I made my payments on time, and was able to open up line after line of credit. It started with my credit union, then Kohl’s, Target, a CarCareOne card, a pair of cards to finance summer classes, and then last October, I got a card at JCPenney.
Some of the things I bought were necessary. Credit is a tool, and when used properly it can be a damn useful one. But when abused, it can spell disaster. When I opened my CarCareOne card I was able to have my s10 fixed so I could travel to work and school.
That was one of the few worthwhile things I have ever done with credit. I cannot account for 90% of the things I have purchased with my credit cards, but I will be paying 100% of them off, plus interest. I have probably spent most of my credit card balances on fast food restaurants and vacations I kept saying “future Daniel” will pay for.
I always looked at my credit cards as an extension of my checking account. I got hundreds of dollars worth of junk food, toys, and experiences for low monthly payments. And when I was out of available credit there was always another lender around the corner I could go to.
Obviously, with that line of thinking, I’m not where I want to be financially. And I know if I want to be a homeowner my credit needs some cleaning up. So I need to make some changes. That’s part of why I turned to The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. That’s where I read about experiencing a paradigm shift.
In the back of my head I’ve always known that the my debt chickens will be coming home to roost. I never lived like I knew that though. I need to stop looking at my credit cards as extensions of my checking account and looking at them for what they are, high interest loans. I have been taking out high interest loans to finance burgers, milkshakes, laundry detergent, clothes, trips to the casino, and other things that I should have been paying cash for. Instead, my cash was paying the interest on the things I didn’t need and more useless stuff.
So that’s my paradigm shift. Looking at credit and seeing it for what it is, high interest loans that I will have to pay back, and not as an extension of my bank account.
No, it’s not revolutionary. It’s simple. It’s “Duh!” But it’s better to have that “Duh!” than to continue on the wrong path.