Except that it does.
And I’m sorry for the click-bait-y nature of that post title. That is clearly a direct quote from Mean Girls. But that’s as close to this post being about Mean Girls as I’m gonna get.
I’ve made more than a few financial missteps in my adult life. It’s easy to do. I think the American financial system makes it easy for us to make numerous mistakes. I dare say the system wants us to make mistakes.
And it’s likely that my mom and my dad (were he still with us) would both admit that they were not the best budgetary role models. Don’t get me wrong, things definitely could have been worse. But there were household financial decisions made from time to time that, looking back, were probably ill-advised.
So when it was my turn to stand on my own two feet and learn what it meant to build credit, I didn’t do the best job. My experience with credit cards during college is the stuff of myth. A cautionary tale.
I went from, “This is just for an emergency,” to “I missed dinner and hunger could become an emergency,” to “Pizza’s on me, guys!” Just because I was old enough to have a credit card didn’t mean I was wise enough to use a credit card.
During my 20s, I managed to pay off those college credit cards. But in recent years, I fell into those easily exploitable habits and have once again found myself in debt. And it’s not just student loan debt, but credit cards as well. Because why learn from my old mistakes when I can run up my credit card paying for car repairs and the occasional DoorDash?
But I’ve been trying to do better. I’ve been doing everything I can to pay down my balances on the credit cards I still have. While I’m trying to do the Dave Ramsay thing by aggressively paying off the one with the lowest balance, I’m also paying slightly more than the minimums on the others, just to try and make more of a dent while I’m at it.
And how am I rewarded for my efforts? They increase my credit limit!
As if to say, “Dear Aaron, we’ve noticed that you haven’t been using your card like you once did! We’ve also noticed that you’re actively paying more than the minimum amount due each month. To reward you for your diligence, we’d like to increase your credit limit by $1,500! Go nuts, kid!”
Nice try, jerks. Joke’s on you. I cut that card up months ago!
Stuff like this, it’s a trap. There’s a lot I’d love to do with that extra money that I technically don’t have. I’m planning on taking a vacation in the near future. Imagine how much nicer that vacation could be if I just decided to put an extra $1,500 toward that trip. But I won’t fall for it.
Because I’ve done the math. If I weren’t in debt, my monthly expenses right now would amount to roughly a third of what I’m bringing in as far as income is concerned. The other two-thirds of that income? Could just be going into savings or something more appropriate that would actually earn interest and eventually lead to a sizable retirement account.
As it is, currently, I don’t think I can ever expect to retire. Because even if I manage to get out from under all that credit card debt, I still have those pesky student loans to consider. So I’ll be a part of the American workforce until the day I die.
Unless I win the lottery (which I do not play) or write a bestselling novel that is optioned for a movie or TV series (which I have not yet made the time to write).
Ugh… finances are depressing.