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The Thing About Credit …

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Monday 21 March 2016

I’d alwPiggy bankays been a fan of the credit card. But a few years ago, before my banking app let me instantaneously track my spending, I found myself in a bit of a parallel universe. One where I discovered that credit might not be all it’s cracked up to be.

 

I’d moved into my own apartment and needed to buy furniture, and a few other bits and pieces. Then, after another few months of sizeable bills and ‘surprise’ credit card statements (a couple of which were virtually heart-attack-inducing), I starting thinking: What would it be like living without credit for a year? In fact, could I take it one step further—what would it be like to go back to the 90s, the era of Madonna’s Vogue, and use cash to make all of my purchases? Could it be done in this day and age? Could I do it without tearing my hair out? I decided I’d find out.

 

First of all, I want to make it clear that I didn’t do anything so dramatic as to cut up my cards, though I’m sure that would have felt pretty good. No, I just sealed them up in an envelope and stashed them at the bottom of my sock drawer. After all, I didn’t know how long this experiment of mine would last. One year? Month? Week? No idea. So it began.

 

The argument for the Plastic Fantastic

 

Back in time: the argument for cash

 

In case you were wondering, I lasted out the year, and yes, it was an interesting experiment, in human psychology more than anything else. After that I compromised and got myself a debit/VISA card. An app from my bank has helped too. So now I have the best of both worlds—the convenience of credit but I’m also able to keep an eye on my spending, and I have the satisfaction of knowing I’m spending my own hard-earned money. And as I watch my app and see my bank balance diminish with every purchase (and my sense of short-term financial security along with it) it’s a good reminder to pull the reins in if I need to.

 

The system isn’t infallible—there are still months when I spend more than I’d budgeted, and not always on essentials. But it happens less often, and I feel much more in control. Those paramedics can put their defibrillators away.

 

Nina

 

 

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