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Credit cards come with a price

Senior moments

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POSTED: June 10, 2014 2:00 p.m.

I’ve been receiving a bunch of credit card applications in the mail lately.  Apparently I’m just not spending enough money on things like my house mortgage, power bills, food, gas, car expenses, medical bills, entertainment (not sure when we have time for that), extra-curricular activities for the kids, and tuition and living expenses for Kaitlyn to go to college.  
Yep, I definitely need to spend more money. not.
I remember when I started my first real full-time job working as the manager of a fitness center in Philadelphia.
I was only 22 years old and thought I had hit it big time.
I had a nice apartment, a decent car to drive — thanks to mom and dad — and my first Visa credit card with a $2,000 spending limit.  
Yeah-boy, I had finally arrived.
I soon found out that if you could make your minimum payment on time every month you could ask for a higher spending limit.
Now we’re talkin’!  
Plus, the local department stores like Lord & Taylor, Bloomingdales and Gimbels were eager to have my business so they gave me credit cards too!  
And, since I grew-up knowing the importance of how to shop for nice clothes at a bargain price, I had no problem helping their stock rise.
Then I decided it was time for a new job; and since I was rolling in the dough, I bought a new car too.  
All I had to do was just keep making those payments.  And who doesn’t go out to eat every once-in-a-while? Just charge it.
Then the happy little cocoon I had spun started to unravel.  I decided it was time to go back to school and finish what I had started. My father always impressed upon me the value of an education — and would prompt me regularly to go back to college and finish earning my degree, which I did.  But like most things that are worth doing, there is a price to pay.
Not only did I have to give up a lifestyle that I had become familiar with, I had to figure out how I was going to pay for everything I already had.  
Thanks to my parents once again. They helped me slowly climb out of debt, well, most of it anyway.  There comes a time when a young man has to start taking some responsibility for the messes he creates; and so I did.  Thank God for consolidation loans.
A recent article I read on Debt.org indicates that Americans age 65 and older carry the highest amount of credit card debt of all the age groups. 
That was surprising to me at first; but the article went on to explain that the reason was probably due to reduced savings caused by the recession…forcing those that were at or near retirement to cut back on the monthly amount that they could pay back to their credit card holders.  This makes sense.
Although my mother uses her credit card sparingly and pays off her debt each month, her savings account is not what it was a year ago; and the interest on her CD is a whopping point something or other.  Plus, most seniors can’t take the risk of losing any principal by playing the stock market.  
Just the other day my daughter, who is graduating from college, received an invitation for her first credit card.  Hmmm, I don’t think so.

DeLong is the executive director of The Suites at Station Exchange. Contact him at 531-7867 or visit him on the web at www.thesuitesatstationexchange.com


 

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