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When the Odds are stacked against you...



I remember getting my first credit card in Chicago. It was a Marshall Fields' credit card with a $250 limit and an exorbitant interest rate. I was a broke college student, but it seemed as if I had the power to do anything with that credit card. I went to the mall with a confident air, knowing that I had the means to buy whatever I wanted (within that $250) at the spot.


Reality quickly intervened after I saw the interest accrue on the credit card. My $100 splurge on makeup turned into $125 , then $150 quickly as the interest grew. I realized that the power never rested with me - my splurges were giving more power to the financial institutions that owned the card and my credit line. I quickly paid off the card and resolved never to hold a credit card debt again.

Reality intervened again and it took many more years before I was stable enough financially to hold zero credit card debt. In those years, I was targeted with all manners of offers for credit cards and bank accounts - some I availed, some I did not. They all had one thing in common - high interest rates, higher late or banking fees.

Now that I am stable enough financially to not keep any credit card debt, I get targeted with a different set of offers. 0% APR to transfer credit over or a hefty bonus to open an account and keep a certain minimum in it land daily in my email inbox. These casual offers enrage me sometimes - I needed those offers when I was broke and had trouble paying bills in college, not now when I am capable of paying off my balance every month.

We think of poverty as a condition of life for many people in the world - however, we never stop to think how much people benefit from the poor and how our current systems are designed to take advantage and keep the poor right where they are. High interest rates and high banking fees are just two of the million things that keep those less fortunate weighed down and stuck where they are.



I was imagining how different things would be if I received credit coaching when I was young. I would have gotten to where I am today but it would have been so much sooner. I would have saved thousands and been spared some worrying times. Education regarding finances is one way we can help someone get past their limitations but opportunity can play a bigger part. Opportunities to lower their interest rate despite bad credit, offering bonuses for on time payments and lowered fees for late are easy ways we can tackle some financial issues that people in debt face. Instead this idea of punishment for late payments or low credit that yields greater revenue for the profitable financial companies has become the norm.

I still use my credit cards for my monthly shopping - however, I know that I will pay it off every month before the interest accrues. If I couldn't, my $100 splurge will grow exponentially as it did years ago at Marshall Fields and I am quite sure, the bonus or 0% APR offers will dwindle accordingly.

 
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