Beware the Credit Card Urge

The end of the year is such a big time for spending between traveling home for the holidays, buying gifts, tipping the doormen or mailman, attending parties, maybe buying a New Year’s Eve outfit.  There is a lot to spend on and it’s easy to get caught up in the holiday cheer but do beware of credit card debt.

Almost every 40-something wishes they had utilized a little more constraint when it came to their credit cards. Some to devastating effects….racking up over $20K and having to declare bankruptcy.  Remember, “Shopoholic” was a movie. It’s not always that easy to get rid of credit card debt. In the movie, the main character auctions off the massive amounts of clothes and accessories she accumulated as she put herself into debt to pay off her debt.  E-bay and consignment shops are great options for a little extra cash but if you want to actually make a significant amount of money it takes a lot of time and effort!   We know… it’s so easy to think you need that thing, whether for yourself or for someone else, and you can worry about the cost later. It’s so easy to plunk down that card. But later can be pretty tough. There is no easy answer except just saying no…but here are a few words of wisdom for 40-seomthings on the consequences and how to perhaps avoid some spending for the wrong reasons!

Spending too much now means you can’t buy later….

I basically just let my credit go to hell. I had a couple of cards that extended me $500 credit and I used it. I started paying back the interest but it just sky rocketed between all of them. All of the sudden, I got this letter saying I owed $14,000 for an original balance of $500. I did manage to pay the $500 two or three times over but they were still saying I owed more.  Basically knew I wasn’t going to be able to buy a house until 44 by the calculations and my credit rating. Advice on that is just steer clear of the loaning thing.” – 40-something, Santa Monica, CA

“Don’t put everything in your credit card. When I was in my twenties, everybody made their dinner. You didn’t just call up and order. You lived within your means. I feel like the voice of a Depression survivor, but if you’re spending $15 a day just on fancy coffee and snacks and you don’t have a salary that justifies it, that’s crazy! Think about budgeting and live within your means. If you need to fly home for something, that’s what credit cards are for but it shouldn’t be a free for all.  I mean I was really thrilled and all when I had my own credit card but then the bills start coming in. And the things to spend money on just get bigger and bigger and bigger as you get into your late 20s and 30’s. So if you can’t learn a little bit of restraint and caution and strategy when you’re in your twenties, you’re sunk by the time your 40. “ 40—something, Detroit, MI

“ I accumulated so much credit card debt in my 20s. Buying clothes I wanted, furnishing my apartment, buying the Gucci bag. Even the little stuff adds up…the lip glosses, the stockings the perfume.  It was all the things I thought I deserved and needed as an “adult”. But I can’t tell you how hard it was to tell my fiance he was taking on over $20,000 of credit card when he was marrying me. It was one of the hardest conversations I ever had. I felt like I was going back a million years to the time when women had dowries. It was the opposite…I had debt. He didn’t let me off the hook but even still it’s a conversation we won’t forget. – 40-something, Cleveland, OH

Credit cards won’t really give you confidence…

“You have to be your own source of confidence. In my 20’s, whenever I was going to a party, I had to go buy a new dress. I thought, “I need the perfect dress.  It will make me better. Make the night better.”  It was always the day of event and I would spend all this money and energy on the dress. Here I was thinking this precious golden dress that I’m wearing which cost my rent check would really make me who I am. If you could just not care what other people thought then you could be yourself. And that would create a lot more confidence than thinking so much about what you are wearing.  Especially when you know the only people that would notice would be another woman who might say oh that’s a lovely so and so you are wearing. Like that matters. – 40-something, Chicago

Try to spend more on experiences…you have time to enjoy them in your 20s and will have more lasting impression…

Be okay with having a closet full of experiences. I love shoes but maybe instead of Italian shoes, I could have gone to Rome.  Accumulate experiences rather than stuff. When I think about what I loved when I was twenty and what I saved all my money for, It’s silly. I cared about having nice clothes, nice luggage, designer clothes… and now that I’m 40 and I can afford it, it’s not even fun to buy them anymore. I remember I wanted this Louis Vuitton purse.  I saved up for it for months and I was basically satisfied for about 10 minutes. You get over the stuff.  They say you have time in yoru 20s but no money and that by the time you have omney you don’t have time. I do wish I had been able to travel more in my 20s because now it is a lot harder. It’s hard to have that perspective in yoru 20s. And it depends on your situation. If you don’t have a lot and your friends have a lot you think I need to have that stuff so I can be like them. Which is not true.” – 40-something, Los Angeles, CA

So maybe it just to try not to go overboard. Buy that one pair of really nice shoes but then go 9 West and then “go west”.

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