I recently bought something from a large retail outfit. As I stood at the cash register getting ready to pay for my purchase, I took notice of the advertisements on the counter asking us to apply for credit. The cashier then asked me if I would like to apply, to which I gave my standard reply, “No thank you, I have enough credit cards already.” She threw in the enticement of ‘15% off’ and I could feel my resolve weakening as I calculated the savings. “But it will save you money”, my inner voice whispered. I shook it off, “No, thank you” I replied again. And once again, in an effort to overcome my resistance, she made a final attempt (I’m sure she sensed my resolve weakening), “If you don’t want it you cancel it after you get it and you STILL save the 15%”. I fought the urge to yell NO! Leave me alone! and run out the door, and instead, politely, once again, refused, offering a bit too much information on the sordid past of me and my credit bureau file and how I had been nursing it back to health, not wanting another hit that could ultimately put it back into cardiac arrest.
I know we live in a world of credit, but sometimes I feel like I am on a seedy corner, with a drug pusher who is saying all of the right things to get me to make the “purchase”. I resist because I see the perils everyday, because I know how much credit I now have and how much I am unwilling to let myself be lured into that false sense of security that comes with credit. I know my limits and I am not willing to go beyond them (most of the time). But there are so many well-deserving souls that do not. So many of us sign on the dotted line to get that extra 15% off and do not cancel the card, but tuck it away, ‘just-in’case’. And the ‘just-in-case’ comes, and the card comes out, and the long slow walk down the credit trap begins. Ok, so maybe I am being a bit dramatic, but honestly, I sometimes wonder if we can be left to our own devices in this world of ‘stuff” and the ease of getting credit to help us pay for our stuff. It seems that the marketing and the insane need to have more and do more will be the end of society.
Maybe I shouldn’t complain. After all, I work in the bankruptcy industry and my job stability hinges on just this mentality. One would think I would rejoice in the ‘credit system that entices us to fail’. But I do not. I have the wounds from such a system and I fear for my children and their children and the generations after.
It’s time we stood up and said NO to credit. Said NO to giving in to the marketing messages that tell us to live beyond our means, to spend more than we make, to finance our lives. It’s time to get back to something simpler, less stressful and ultimately more satisfying than the things we accumulate.
Related post: Live now, pay dearly later
If there is one testimonial that I adore above all others from my clients, it is the one where they say, “I love living off credit. It is so much less stressful. Learning to live within our means has given us so much more quality of life.” Sure, you can go bankrupt to learn that lesson (sort of like the equivalent to going to Detox), or you can take small steps today to gradually move yourself away from a destructive spending pattern. It’s can be as easy as 1-2-3…
1. Cut up the credit cards, or freeze them in blocks of water in the freezer (if taking the scissors to them is just too much too soon), to avoid using them impulsively
2. Create a simple spending plan to spend only what you make and not rely on someone else’s money to make ends meet.
3. Save something. Even if it is your loose change in a jar, or $1 per week. Whatever amount works for you. Just to give you that feeling of “having something tucked away”.
Take control of your financial future today. Recognize when you are being ‘marketed’ to and avoid temptation. Let’s go back to a simpler life. And let in the benefits of having less and enjoying your peace of mind more.