So the other day I was chatting to a fellow Women with Cents member, when she mentioned my blog and said “I was really enjoying it up until the point you said to cut up my credit card. There’s no way I could do that!”
I’m not surprised by her response, in fact it’s actually a very common reaction to that particular piece of advice! Relying on credit has become today’s norm.
As Bernard Salt put it, we are living it up on borrowed time, and everybody is doing it. But let me quote your mother (and mine) by saying “if everybody jumped off a bridge, would you do it too?!”
So why are we so comfortable jumping into bed with credit? And more to the point, why are we so scared to break up with it?
The Honeymoon Period
We are constantly sold the idea of “living the dream”. Your dream car, dream home, that dream holiday – the marketers are very good at what they do. But there is never any mention of saving for your dreams. Instead it’s enjoy yourself now and worry about the money later!
And the dream life is exaggerated through social media. Other people’s dream cars, homes and holidays constantly clutter your newsfeed, but no one posts the size of their credit card debt or that they’re living pay cheque to pay cheque with little to no buffer in between!
There are no posts about the fact that the higher our incomes climb, the higher our debt levels are, whereas you would think the opposite would be true.
What are we doing? Where is this going? Is this serious?
Our parents typically had those of you in my generation when they were much younger, usually in their 20s. By the time our parents were in their 40s many of us were adults and starting to pave our own way, leaving our parents with 20+ years to save for retirement. And even so, in most cases they are retiring on less than half the amount they need for a comfortable retirement.
We on the other hand, typically spent our 20s in the honeymoon period of the relationship with our credit card – living it up and enjoying life, on credit.
Listen: Mamamia Out Loud discuss why we supposedly shouldn't put smashed avo on our credit cards if we ever want to buy a house (post continues after audio...)
Then our 30s came along and many of us at some stage decided to have kids – usually with little to no savings, and any shortfall during maternity leave went on the credit card.
By the time our kids are working we’ll be approaching our 60s, probably with limited savings and significant outstanding debt.
Sounds dire, doesn’t it?
Time to break up for good
If your first reaction to a chopped up credit card is “nooooooooooooo” (again, very common!) this tells me you have two challenges to overcome:
- You’re addicted! Like the bad boy you probably dated in high school, your credit card has control over you and you need to break up with it once and for all. As the saying goes, the first step is to admit to yourself that you have a problem.
- You’re dependent! If you are relying on your credit card you are probably living beyond what your regular income can handle and you need to take control of your finances ASAP!
So how do you break the cycle?
It won’t be easy, but it IS simple. All you need to do, is decide you want to make the change – and mean it.
Natasha Janssens is the founder of Women with Cents and finance expert. You can see more from her on her website www.womenwithcents.com.au.