Daily Archives: September 16, 2009

Credit cards getting reined in

Hi come on and sit down with me. If you think it’s too cool this morning we can go up to my attic. It’s all fitted out like a special den. You’ll like it.

credit cards

It’s about time somebody has the nerve to rope in the credit card companies. Have you heard that as of February of 2010, young adults under twenty-one will not be able to get a credit card without a parent or guardian signing for them? That means the parents will get stuck with the bill if they let their irresponsible adult child spend willy nilly as their heart desires. If the person is able to prove s/he has significant enough income to pay the bills, s/he will be able to get a card in his/her own name. Not every one goes to college, but everyone needs to be responsible for the bills they owe. What that actual amount they have to prove as income  is, I haven’t read yet.

Now I will admit, I got my first credit card when I went away to college at age eighteen. However, having grown up with my depression area father, I was really leery about using it for anything I absolutely didn’t need. At that time in the 60s I was receiving $25.00 a month as a stipend on a scholarship. Believe it or not, that money stretched for most of the month. Of course I was in the middle of cornfields in northern Illinois and there were few places to use my card, but I probably could have found a way if I had really tried. There was no public transportation to the downtown area of this small town anyway. There was a small shopping center within walking distance. I can’t remember, but I think I used the card maybe at the student union book store.  Anyway, I always felt exceptionally guilty if I didn’t pay the bill off in full every month that I used it.

Kids today, and yes, those in college are still kids, for the most part have not had to budget their spending. They are just beginning to know how this two year old recession is going to affect them. For example, Maxine’s granddaughter has a credit card “for emergencies“. However, yesterday when she called her grandmother, her emergency was needing a manicure. Her mother and father are practicing pay as you go. She hasn’t caught on to that concept quite yet.

Now I will admit that I am very glad I didn’t have to co-sign for my son. He wracked up some pretty heavy charges on his credit card bill in the 90s while he was in college and in the early 00s when he was first on his own. There was no second hand stuff for him. He needed the new apartment with the completely new furniture. Now he was employed while he was in college and he got a job immediately upon graduation, so I stepped back and didn’t interfere. Two years after he graduated he decided to move to Massachusetts to live as a counselor in a boys’ dorm while he taught. He was still paying on the new furniture while guess who got it moved into her house? MOI! His bedroom set has been in my bedroom and his couch and chair have been in my family room now since 2002. At one point due to his credit card, he ended up several thousand dollars in debt on TOP of his student loans. However, to his credit, once he moved to the east coast better sense got to him and he paid off every cent of his bill. It took quite a while but he had seen the light.  Now he tells me he lives by the same creed I do.

If I want something I save up for it before I buy it. I finally  convinced the credit card companies to stop sending me the pre-approved credit applications and the “convenient” checks to draw on my account. I will admit my decision to go to the chiropractor now at the same time I’m having major dental work done at the same time I’m having to do some repairs on my house in order to sell it at the same time I’m paying for cardiac tests….it’s all been a little overwhelming. I am using my credit card, but this is an unusual blip on my economic radar. Hopefully it will all be temporary. I find these things in my life necessary at this time. I can’t imagine how I would feel if I threw in all kinds of things I thought I REALLY needed…manicures, pedicures, visits to the hair salon, new clothes…it would not take long for me to feel even more over my head than I do now. These are the things kids in college often think of as essentials. Add on to that laptops, cell phones to text, I Pods, Blackberries, etc. etc. You can get the idea.

Maybe parents can step up and finally say, “Enough is enough!”  I see credit card companies as mindless blood suckers who prey on the immature, economically ignorant young college students. Up to now the attitude upon going to college is, “You’re not the boss of me now” as the kids sank lower and lower into debt, to the credit card companies’ glee, but now parents will have some say in the matter. It might be a surprise to some of them that they should be responsible for their children’s economic behaviors. They may not want that say. But it will be theirs to deal with. It’s about time somebody became responsible.

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