There you are, 18 years old, stunned look on your face. Your first time, your big moment, your coming of age, your right of passage... You finally feel like a man but most of all, you're just shocked at your luck! It's actually happening! She's actually letting you do this. She's going to let you….swipe, sign and walk away! You're a card carrying man of credit!
You're 18, maybe a little older, you've got your first job and suddenly, you're approved for your first ever credit card. Now the world is your oyster. Whatever you want, you can have it, right now.
So with all the money management skills of the average 18 year old, that's what you do. You sow your financial oats all over town. You buy everything that's fast, fun and funky – all on credit. And so began life's first big financial lesson:
Interest can be a real bitch
You move into your twenties. Your twenties are those wonderful commitment free years, flitting between deals, following the interest free terms and never hanging around long enough to be invited in for a home loan. You're a player. You live life in the credit fast lane…until one day, you want something more. You learn life's second big financial lesson:
A good credit rating is hard to find
30 approaches and it's time to find a nice, friendly financial institution and settle down. You may pick "Ms Right" or you may pick "Ms-Whoever-will-give-me-a-home-loan" but either way she usually comes with the credit card you'll settle for, even if it's not the wisest choice.
You get comfy, you may raise a few store cards, maybe get a few things on 24 months interest-free…you understand that you've made a deep commitment to credit, and it will always be there for you when you need it.
The particular card you've committed to may not be the best deal but you're too comfy, too entrenched and too busy to keep shopping around. Then one day you wake up and realise another big life lesson:
You thought you'd be richer by 40
Your forties throw up the mid-life credit crisis. All your hopes and dreams of being in a committed relationship with a pile of money by 40 are crumbling around you. Instead, you've got a rotund mortgage and 2.4 cards that are growing fast! It's time to improve your financial physique. It's time to shake those assets. It's time to give your income a serious workout. It's time to look in the bank book, smile and say "Looking good there you sexy thing!"
You head out into the brave new world of financial security. Your credit card stands by you while you flirt with investment properties, shares and other more refined and sophisticated financial beauties. Your tastes have matured, your interests are broader now and your credit card understands – you are a financial force to be reckoned with.
You reach your financial peak in your fifties
Your long term love affair with your credit card has matured into a comfortable mutual dependence. While your super and bank balance grows fatter daily, your credit card becomes lean and sensible. Sure, you take her out for special occasions (maybe a flashy dinner or a little trip away, and you never deny her her love of eBay) but really, you see her as an old, reliable friend – standing by ready to be there for you in an emergency.
No debt is good debt
You're in your sixties; you're a dapper and worldly silver fox with an impressive portfolio. You trade in the high risk, high return investments of your youth for a little blue chip prestige. You look towards retirement, and realise that it's time for your credit card to retire too. With a beautiful, big super payout on the way, and a more careful approach to spending in your future, there's no place for high interest credit.
After a life-long love affair though, you'll never quite let her go. You don't just throw her away and callously close down her account. Instead, you tenderly place her somewhere safe and warm, knowing that no matter what, she'll always be there for you, in good times and in bad, for richer or poorer, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, for as long as you both shall live.
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