Before I left for college in the mid '90s, my mother sat down and had "the talk" with me. Do not rack up credit card debt. Do not even think about getting credit cards.
Ok, but on Sundays at Kansas State University, the dining halls weren't open for dinner, but the credit card companies were there with snacks and T-shirts. All we had to do was sign up for a credit card. Well, the combination of a hungry and poor college student and a credit card does not mix.
My first card was a Discover Card that I maxed out in 2 months. It was easy to pay the minimum balance and still be able to purchase stuff.
Then I needed (wanted) a new TV, so I went to Sears and bought one on credit. The card was maxed out before I even got the card in hand. There were a few other bad mistakes that I made with credit cards, but it's the same old story - get the card, pay the minimum, and max it out.
The Consequences - Flash forward to 2002. My wife and I wanted to buy our first house because we had a baby on the way. But when people looked at our credit report, they saw a bunch of bad debt on the report, or charge offs or settlements.
We had to wait 6 months to get things cleared up the best we could. By the time we bought our house, we were only able to get 6.5% interest rate and wasn’t able to put anything down. So now we had a mortgage, and a few credit cards we had to pay off.
The Lesson Learned - Yes, it took us 8 years to figure it out, but we finally realized the consequences of unmanaged credit card debt. We really had to sacrifice in order to get our debt down. A lot of the overtime I worked instead of going towards savings went to credit card debt. So that was time away from the family just to pay debt.
But through hard work and sacrifice we were able to get our debt down and start saving for our future.
Advice to those who read this - credit card debt that goes unmanaged has horrible consequences in the future. It is better to save for your future than it is to put that on hold in order to pay for your past mistakes.
Contributed by Lawrence from Kansas