My First Stupid Financial Decision

Usually, I get on anyone who is overly sanctimonious when doling out personal finance advice because, well, they do sound sanctimonious and they ignore the larger issues that face most American families today.  Having said that, some folks do make boneheaded moves in the finance department, me included.

When I was in college, I thought it was a bright idea to get an American Express card. There were some folks on campus who signed me up…did they care that I didn’t have a job or any income really, apart from what student aid I was receiving at the time, combined with an allowance from my mother? No, they didn’t. They were happy to sign me up and I went right along with it, foolish girl that I was.

Now, had I had an ounce of financial sense, I would have used my card as it was intended to be used. I wouldn’t have gotten into any trouble at all and would have been on the road to having excellent credit. But, I didn’t. I didn’t realize that since my American Express card was a charge card, as opposed to a credit card, that I had to pay whatever balance I had run up during the month in full at the end of the month. I went a little crazy and before long I owed more than $1,000 and, of course, I couldn’t pay it. There went my fledgling credit file.

It is a good thing that there are now measures in place that prevent credit card companies from setting up shop on college campuses, and while I do believe that some of the blame for my early credit transgression does lie with the credit card company, the ultimate responsibility lies with me. In my case, I was a stupid kid who got into trouble with credit.

I did end up paying it off, but it took a long time and my credit was damaged. Starting off with damaged credit is not a good thing and I don’t recommend it to anyone.

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