Do you use credit cards regularly? There’s a fairly large movement, especially in the Christian community, to stop using our credit cards altogether. And I guess that’s fine. I mean, I know of plenty of people who have gotten into real trouble by using credit cards. They’d have $2000 on the thing before they knew it, and they had no way to pay it.
But that’s never happened to me. For as long as I’ve had a credit card, which is going to be 10 years here coming up pretty soon, I’ve carried a balance one time. It was $.25, because somehow, I managed to underpay my total bill by $.25. I still to this day have no idea how I managed it.
So what I’ve always been told is that by using my credit cards, even when I pay them off, I’m spending more than I would if I used cash.
Does it just not work that way for anyone else? Cash in my wallet? Gone. Almost instantly. It’s not like spending real money. It’s this untraceable magic money that I will spend painlessly. Sure, once it’s gone I don’t spend anymore, but boy, it doesn’t last long. My credit card, on the other hand, now that hurts. I hate swiping that thing. And it’s traceable. I can see it in black and white almost immediately.
But beyond that, it even seems like I’m kind of making my money work for me by using my credit cards. My money stays in the bank a little longer, and it is actually earning some pitiful amount of interest. I get points on my credit cards that I turn in for gift cards (or cash) a few times a year. I wouldn’t get to do that if I used cash.
Sure, the credit card companies offer these promotions hoping I’ll pay them some interest. But it’s not like they aren’t making any money off of me. They get a cut of each of my transactions, so I’m not leaving them in the poor house. And they can only afford the fancy point programs because there are other people who are paying them mountains of interest. It’s not that I don’t understand how it works. It’s just that I don’t see why I can’t take advantage of the deal, too.
So do I think I spend more using my credit cards? I guess it’s possible. But as long as we’re still on track to pay off our mortgage in under 5 years, and we’re still meeting our ambitious savings goals, I guess I don’t care. You can’t take it with you, as they say.
So what about the folks who say using credit cards is certain demise? I guess that’s fine for them. I’m certainly not interested in telling other people that they should start using their credit cards all the time. I know some people work with cash better than they do credit cards. I just don’t happen to be one of them. So if you don’t use credit cards, that’s fine! Manage your money in whatever way works for you.
Just don’t tell me to read the book that changed your life or listen to some radio show or go to some seminar. I know what the deal is. It’s just not for me. And I think that’s ok.