Today is the closing date for my main credit card. That means I start a fresh cycle and have already racked up $380 in charges for things I put off paying for until today. That doesn’t include the $105 I spent on my belated Father’s Day present yesterday…I had to pull the trigger and purchase yesterday because it was on one of those One Sale per Day sites.
In my days of living paycheck-to-paycheck I would often play my special brand of Credit Card Roulette, where you charge everything on one card one month, then a different card the next, paying off the previous card. This kicked the expense down the road but never really resolved it. You’d tell yourself that you wouldn’t spend as much the next month, but when your only expenses are food, rent and utilities, it’s kinda hard to cut back. Oftentimes I would have to float a balance and pay interest.
My wife and I treat money slightly differently. She absolutely abhors carrying a balance on her credit card and paying even a minute amount of interest. I on the other hand, will pay interest to float a balance on a credit card rather than disperse large amounts of money from my bank account. I might be “throwing away” money in interest payments but I believe that the credit card companies reward me with a better FICO score. [Oh no wait, that’s because I’m an old, straight, white guy.]
The reasons for this are probably enough to keep a therapist in business for years, but my inner armchair psychologist says it’s because I have always gone through life without much of a safety net. I came from a poor family and I didn’t get a good paying job right out of college. I’m one of the very few “rags to slightly better rags” tales I know of. I climbed the socio-economic ladder in sprints rather than steady strides, which means I struggled for years before making even decent coin.
The thing about being poor once upon a time is that you never feel like that time is over or very far away. I always feel like I’m two unfortunate events and one bad decision away from being back to being broke. So I pay a little interest because I figure if push comes to shove, and I have to choose between paying rent and paying my credit cards, I can always defer the cards until I have to declare bankruptcy.
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