Those who’ve sworn off credit cards have probably run across the suggestion to “freeze your credit cards in a block of ice.” It’s old advice, and it presumably works for some people. But here’s why I don’t think it’s the way to go.
First of all, I tried it in the past and failed. Multiple times. I waited for the ice to melt, peered through it to get the extinction date so I could use it over the phone, and microwaved the block of ice when I was too impatient to wait for it to melt. I have no idea what “emergency” could have resulted in any of that. Seriously, what kind of crisis is there that you need to use a credit card within the 3-minute microwave time? I know there were no hospital journeys involved.
Second of all, it’s a psychological matter. I knew the credit cards were still there. All I had to do was something silly to get at them. Something that really made me feel like a desperate loser. Something that confirmed for me was that I had no self-control.
But the truth was, I did have plenty of self-control. I just wasn’t using it. I was afraid of losing my “safety net.” Of course, credit cards aren’t really a safety net. They’re a trap. IT HAPPENED once I committed, for real, to get out of credit card debt. And cutting up my cards and canceling my accounts confirmed that commitment.
I spent a couple of hours wandering the mall Saturday and, while there, noticed a store credit card offer in the jewelry department of Dillard’s. The brochure showed a hip-looking credit card with the words “This is mine mine mine” written on it. I knew that companies were targeting younger consumers, but seeing this still surprised me. The card seems aimed at kids that are in high school or junior high.
Kids that want things for themselves and want them now. I guess it’s not enough for young kids to have their own cell phones and iPods — now they’re also offered their “own” credit card. Of course, it can’t legally be their own credit card if they’re under 18 — the parent or guardian is still liable for the charges, but I was curious how it would work, so I checked it out online. Is it a surprise that the fine print was hard to read? I had to copy and paste the terms into Notepad in order to see them clearly.
These two parts struck me as interesting:
Credit cards company charges and minimum payments will be calculated separately based on the balance attributable to you and to the Dependent. If applicable, there will be a minimum finance charge of $1.00 on the balance attributable to you and a separate minimum finance charge of $1.00 on balance attributable to the Dependent.
Only one monthly payment will be due on the Account, and you will be responsible for paying all amounts due on your Account, including charges by the Dependent. Generally, payments will be allocated proportionately to your balance and the Dependent’s balance.
It wasn’t a matter of not being “able” to use the cards. After all, I could easily have opened up new ones. It was a matter of commitment and then having faith and confidence in myself. I didn’t need those cards hanging around “just in case.” I could handle life without them.