I’m Proud That I Don’t Have A Credit Card.

IMG_7793I’m proud that I don’t have a credit card. There, I said it. I’ve never been in debt. I’ve paid for everything I’ve ever owned with cash. I’m proud that I’ve been in control. I’m proud that I have to save and wait and work a little harder for the things I have in life.
I am not saying this to put down anyone that does have a credit card or debt. I am saying this as a middle finger to the government. To the credit unions. To the banks. To anyone who thinks credit cards are the only way to pay for anything. I’ve made the choice not to have them and have no regrets.

Now, some of you may roll your eyes at me and think my parents paid for everything. Yes, they did — until college. Aside from assisting me with college room & tuition (after my scholarships) and most of our wedding, they don’t pay for anything. I am incredibly grateful for the values that my parents have instilled in me from an early age regarding finances. They worked their butts off and saved. I worked and I saved. I am working and saving.

When I turned eighteen, I received junk mail offers to apply for student credit cards. I pleaded with my parents to let me apply and they consistently told me, “No.” A few years went by and then the economy suffered. Around this time, I was searching for an apartment. I was unaware that having a good credit score was necessary for an apartment, and kept getting declined because I had no score. Due to the poor economy, having no score was just as bad, or even worse, than having a bad credit score. I thought I was screwed. But I managed to find an apartment (the company was very lenient). My next two apartments were through the company that my other half worked for and we didn’t have a hard time securing a place. Perfect! I still had no credit score, though, and started applying for cards because I thought that was what I had to do. Fortunately for me, credit card companies were declining me. Another year or so went by and I realized, I don’t want a credit card. I’m doing just fine without one – why get one? The only thing a credit card would do is rack up my debt.

So what’s the one secret to getting by without a credit card?

Don’t spend more than you earn.

If you can’t afford it, don’t get it. It’s as simple as that.

I don’t have a fancy new laptop. I don’t have a new car with payments (I paid cash several years ago for a very nice used car). I don’t go on vacation (we did go to Cancun last year with my husband’s tax return – but I didn’t want to use it that way). I haven’t bought a new camera in years. (I am sorely in need of a new lens — anyone?) I’ve snatched up things at thrift stores. I used my grandmother’s dishes and furniture as long as I could until I was able to acquire a few newer things. I stopped buying DVDs when I discovered that the library was a wonderful resource of media along with its books. I probably won’t buy a book, DVD, or CD again.

Not having a credit cards forces my husband and I to be wiser about our financial choices. Instead of wondering whether or not we’ll be able to pay something off, we ask ourselves, “Do we have enough money for this right now?” If we don’t, then we don’t get it. We somehow always have enough to pay for extra expenses that come up because we thought ahead and saved, rather than depended on a credit card. When people tell me I need to get a credit card, build up my credit, and/or anything along those lines, I feel like I have to defend myself. We plan. We reuse. We are frugal and thrifty. And we are fine.

I feel like I have way more than I need. My life is full of luxury. If you stepped into my apartment and looked around, you wouldn’t think so: cheap IKEA furniture, few possessions, only one cabinet filled with food. Yet, compared to 99% of the world’s population, I am rich.

You are too.

That’s the thing that blows my mind about all of this.

Most of us are blessed with so much. Most of us do have enough money. We just don’t realize it. We squander our money and time on temporary pleasures. We fail to realize what we have, we don’t put things into perspective, and we kind of forget about the future. We are impatient. We want more. And this is what has fueled our credit-card driven debt-loaded society.

As for a home? That’s our next obstacle. We may not be able to go about it the traditional way, but we will work a little bit harder. It’s funny how people who have worked for years with no debt are denied certain items because they don’t have a silly credit trail while others with debt are allowed to get cards that rack up more debt. What kind of system is this? I admit, it does make me angry. It frustrates me. But it also pushes me to work even harder. To cherish what I already have. To focus on what really matters for me. That is why I’m proud that I don’t have a credit card.

Step #2 Towards a Better Life: Spend Less.

We know money doesn’t buy happiness, so why are we constantly spending money?

Here’s a great idea: stop spending! Take a step back and analyze your expenses.

My goal:

Spend less money.

Specifically:

Do not spend any money at all through January 1st, 2011 except on the following: bills (rent, cell phone, Internet, electric, gas, and car insurance), food (minimal groceries and meals out when I absolutely have to – a.k.a starving and unable to make it home), transportation (mainly gas for my car), and emergencies (car parts, hospitals, anything else that may arise).

I’m always talking about how I’m trying to ‘save money’ but the amount I have in my bank account never seems to accumulate! Rather, it plateaus or slightly dips until I put a little extra in it to bring it back up to the plateau. This time, I’m serious. The fact that I’m writing this post and announcing it to the world only reinforces my seriousness on the matter and will help motivate me to stick with the goal! I am hoping it won’t be difficult and I’ll be able to continue past January 1st, 2011.

Please help me keep this goal! If we are getting together, I do not ask that you pay for me when we go out. Rather, I ask you agree to fun activities that don’t cost money and require little transportation. These ‘free’ intimate hangouts are the most rewarding! I already had a tiff with a friend who demanded that I be willing to spend $25 on a haunted house across the state border because “life is about going out and having fun.” I responded with something along the lines of “the best things in life are free” with a list of reasons for saving my money but it didn’t go over too well with him. On a certain level, I understood his frustration with me (what difference is $25?), but at the same, I ask for respect towards my decisions. I hope this situation won’t happen again.

As for the holiday season? I’m not buying gifts this year. I don’t want any gifts either. I want to receive and give experiences and connections. I want cozy evenings in front of the fireplace with a hot cup of tea and a board game, a nice warm family dinner, board games with friends, and so forth. The holiday season is about being with our friends and family, not giving each other the most expensive thing we can. The most lasting gifts are non-tangible.

This blog post over at Rowdy Kittens explains it well:
Christmas with the Minimalists.

I also challenge you to think about joining me with this goal. Not only will you discover happiness in the simplest of experiences, but your wallet will thank you too! 🙂