Credit Cards; We all own one, and how can we not? They promise so much yet deliver so little. Much like a relationship.... You never know what your really getting yourself into until your stuck counting the cost. But how do you explain it's impact on someone who hasn't owned one?
If there was ever a recipe for bad romance, credit cards are it. I sure hope credit card companies and debt collectors have a sense of humor about what they do.
When you meet someone you like, you feel very happy, you see how others act around her, and you can't help but want her for yourself. Lets call her Madame Visa. You are hesitant to apply, after all, is she really worth the commitment, is she someone you want to take home to meet your parents? Someone to rely on a during a pricey family dinner maybe?
Once you scrounge up the courage and apply for her good graces, you can't help feel hesitant. After all who knows what your past history will reveal; A faulty credit score is a tough thing to get over. But who knows? Maybe if you've been prudent your entire life you haven't been with her fickle friends Madame's MasterCard, American Express and Discovery. You might be safe. You pray that she doesn't scorn you over your past involvements. After all, they're in the past baby, I'm sure with you it'll be different. Magical even. I know your the right one for me!
If she says yes and embraces your hand with all the comfort you dreamed off. You can't help but enjoy how magical it feels. She accepts and chooses you. She will support you (with 0% for the first 6 months even) and even give you 2% cash back, all because she is so fine that all business want you, treat you special even, just so you you come visit. All because of the lovely lady nestled in your outstretched palm.
You think it's poor taste to swipe her once too often, after all, she is special, but you can't help but show her off and how powerful you feel with Madame Visa clutched onto your fingertips.
How can you help but not fall in inexplicably love with her? She always says yes to your most arduously hidden desires, should you buy a light pink man-purse complete with a humidifier for $399, yes! After all, its less than $400 and she will feel oh so protected in there.
It is only after that glow new loves brings to fade that you discover the problems that a real relationship brings. She is no longer as comforting anymore, she grows distant, disinterested even and at times severely demanding.
You acquiesce by throwing money at the problem, the 38.95% rate is no problem, anything to keep Madame Visa happy. She wants and expects the best. After all, you knew what you were getting into....didn't you read the fine print? You find that your 'investment' in Madame Visa's happiness is really an expensive hobby....nay your life in fact. Until the day when tempers fray she humiliates you by declining your affections in public.
You fight, you cry, you scream and you beg to be placed back in her good graces, but alas. You try and you swipe, but it is done. You have been declined. Someone takes Madame Visa off you and cuts her into small pieces, much like your heart and the realization that you are no longer whole. Your life will never be the same. To have loved and lost, is better than to never have loved at all. You will eventually recover, and hopefully learn from your past and trust your heart to someone who will really take care of you and know when to say no. A trusty debit card perhaps.
When you get a card, you feel happy, suddenly you feel like you can do anything (as far as your limit allows). New frontiers open up as your no longer constrained by the pesky prudent limits of your disposable income, in short you love your shiny new credit card. You feel that the card and its minimal introductory fees are truly an investment, much like a nice shiny charcoal grey power suit.
In fact, maybe you'll splurge on that awesome suit you saw at Barney's, imagining your co-workers' complements flowing on how great you look, how your boss will see how you've taken your look to a new level and are now ready for a big promotion (not to mention an earth shattering) raise and how that hot new receptionist's knees are going to buckle just seeing you gliding regally in that suit of Kings.
Master of the Universe indeed, and your plastic lover, Madame Visa is your king maker.
Well, you buy the suit (along with shoes, tie, belt, silk briefs and a watch), swiping your card away with care free abandon with the full knowledge that its 0% for 6 months. You don't care what it will cost, after all, your forthcoming raise will probably more than cover it all. It's an investment in the future.
Fast forward 6 months and no one has really complemented you on your suit, minus your co-workers cursory, "Is that a new suit, gee that's nice" before going back to their desks (after all, your bonus is based on the work you do, not what you wear while doing it you twat!), your bosses look at your (mostly) shiny suit silently fume that you bought a nicer suit than the ones that they are wearing and privately wonder if its because your going for an interview.... you disloyal brat! And the pretty receptionist doesn't notice your gargantuan investment, after all she sees hundreds of suits every day, what does she care/know if you splurged on a new expensive one, she's more concerned about her date with the Managing Director and the ride he promised her in (or perhaps on) his new fully loaded company issued Mercedes!
To add insult to injury, you just saw the same suit you splurged on, on discount at Men's Warehouse no less....the nerve!
6 months of good living start coming back to haunt you....0% is history, now your rate has ballooned to 38.95%. Making those payments means drastically reducing spending, time to start bringing a sandwich to work. Cereal diet takes on a whole new meaning...if you splurge, its on the dollar menu at Mc Donalds. Time to down grade from Grey goose, to "affordable yet still tasty" Bud Lite. No more nights out at that hot new VIP clubs; trucker dive bars are the new name of the game (Hello STD ridden biker gals)....maybe it's time to hawk your suit before the debt collector walks in.
And whilst all this is happening, you wistfully think, perhaps you shouldn't have insisted on getting bottle service to impress your entourage (and the honey's) every time you went out, or rented that expensive BMW for your road trip home. After all you wanted everyone to remark on how amazingly successful you are. But alas, it was but a lie, funded by Madame Visa and now she wants it all back.....with an egregious amount of interest.
Your plastic friend was a burning plastic fiend in disguise. Now its too late. Your screwed. You wanted a life partner, and what you got was a temperamental mistress. Treat her well, and she'll be good to you for a while, but as time goes on her demands grow more the irrational, after all, paying a monthly minimum credit card of $800 per month is insane! But you must grim and bear it. After all who wants to be alone and reconvene that feeling of powerlessness?
The lesson to be learned here is that a good life is expensive, full of expectations and imperfections which we are desperate to hide to the world. Unfortunately life isn't quite so simple, even happiness has its costs. Lets just hope for your own sake that it's not as expensive as a Credit Card. But if your really good and really lucky, you will one day find that magical card that will make your life all the better for a life time.