So lately I’ve been pondering the “buy now, pay later” society in which we live. It’s been my observation that merchants make it harder and harder to pay with cash — “everyone” prefers plastic. There are television commercials that paint a picture of convenience with ?Pay Pass? and I?m sure everyone knows the commercial that features a busy cafeteria ? everyone passing through the line in an intricate pattern ? zipping their cards through the reader to pay ? and then the poor sap with Cash brings the whole operation to a halt ? shame on him for paying with actual money!
I?m all about convenience, and I really don?t have any problem with credit cards ? but it?s an interesting situation. This morning on Today there was a segment on Credit Card Companies and how they are taking advantage of Joe Consumer with their high rates and fees, yada yada. Apparently, a few of the big dog companies are getting a hand slap from Congress based on claims they make it nearly impossible for the average American to pay off his credit card bill.
Are you kidding me?
Credit Card companies exist essentially so that Americans (who have no financial discipline or self-control) can spend money they don?t have to buy things they don?t need for which they don?t plan to immediately pay. [This is not why all people use credit cards ? but this is how they make money.] They publish and provide lots and lots of rules stating the rates, fees, etc. What happens if you don?t pay ? what happens if you pay late ? what happens if your balance is $xx.xx ? what happens if the sun doesn?t come up tomorrow?.
Today interviewed poor Joe Consumer on the show this morning. He?s paid his bill every month for however long and then made a late payment ? his rate went from 10% to 30% and he had to pay a fee. So? he knew the rules, broke the rules, and is now whining on national TV about having to follow the rules.
I don?t personally have any credit cards. If I don?t have money for something ? I don?t buy it. This is a direct result of my learning the rules the hard way? Despite my not buying anything on credit for over 3 years now ? with the exception of my car (and my college education) ? I have been paying at least one credit card bill since then. No one knows ?the rules? better than me.
I am not pooh-poohing buying on credit. I recognize that credit allows people to afford things like homes and vehicles and college tuition. Buy on credit all you want! There are cards out there with ?cash back? options ? which I think is genius. There are cards that give rewards ? go for it. But read the rules! Don?t be so ridiculous as to think you can use someone else?s money for free ? for as long as you feel like using it.
Note: I get to start drinking Diet Coke again later today. Maybe that will calm the wild beast in me that is causing outbursts about credit cards.