You bought what??!?

What is the craziest thing you ever purchased with a credit card? Of course what I consider crazy may be incredibly important to someone else. As an example, that original Mr. Spock Star Trek figurine in the un-opened box may seem to be an incredible waste to some people, but to others it is the must have, Holy Grail of collectibles that completes years of tearful hunting. Personally, that PSA 10 1st Edition Charizard, Pokemon card has been on my purchase bucket-list for years. So when it actually appears on E-Bay, I belly up to my computer, credit card in hand and begin the long arduous process of bidding.  Crazy you say?  Not according to my 11-year-old son!

So what are people buying you ask? Well, a recent survey of over 2,000 people found out. Food, medical and car repairs top the list, but some other, rather strange things appear on the list. Are you guilty of any of these?

Concert and/or sports tickets. (6%)

To some people, this is a must. Nothing beats going to your favorite venue and watching your team play. But as prices for concerts and sporting events continue to rise, so does the use of credit cards for this necessity. But when you consider the added interest to the purchase, the cost is higher still. And if you cannot find any other way to get the tickets than a Ticket agency or scalper, then good luck to you.

Lust sure can cause you to make rather foolish decisions. As shocking as it may be, men are actually four times more likely than women to use a credit card for this. And if this is your situation, than I would consider making sure that you open the monthly statement rather than your wife. Otherwise, as Ricky Ricardo was fond of saying,..”You have a lot of splaining to do…..!”

As they say, you pay for convenience. If going through the hassle of spending hours in an auto dealership haggling over price and options is not your cup of tea, then use a credit card. Right? Well….it’s probably not a good idea. Even with average credit, you can finance an auto with interest at around 5% – 7%, but credit cards average around 15%-23%, so do the math. Even if you are sporting a credit card with a small percentage rate and large enough available credit, unless you are planning to pay it off within 5 years, the lower interest rate over a longer period of time could mean you are paying too much for that vehicle.

College (4.7%)

Considering the high cost of tuition and other expenses related to getting that higher education, there must be a lot of people out there with stellar credit ratings and tremendous credit lines. But even if that is the case, why charge it? When comparing interest rates between credit cards and student loans it easy to see the cheaper way to go. And don’t forget to look into financial aid.

Tattoos (3.3%)

Really?  If you don’t have enough cash to cover the cost of that dragon tattoo covering your back, you may want to wait.  Tattoo’s are forever, and it may feel like your credit card debt is too.

Weddings (2.6%)

I understand. This may be the most important day of your life, and with the ever-rising cost of getting married, you may not have any other choice. But consider this, starting out your new lives together with a large debt load may put added pressure into an otherwise beautiful start as a couple. Be creative. There are cheaper methods to getting married that will still bring many happy memories later in life.

Bail (2%)

Yikes. Not much choice here I guess. Pony up money quickly, or spend the night in the slammer. Hmmm…credit card debt or spending some quality time with Jim, the fat, hairy guy covered in tattoos you get to share a cell with? Maybe he used his credit cards for some of his tats?  This may give you something in common to talk about.

Funerals (2%)

Funerals cost. And if you are older, this is something that you should consider looking into. Most funeral homes have burial trust’s set up for this very thing. Without coverage, it is an immediate, large expense that your surviving family may be unprepared for.  Unless they have some cash saved up, credit cards may be their only choice. 

And finally … marijuana? (<1%)

Times are-a changing. With the rise of legal marijuana in some states, using a credit card for said purchase is on the rise. But be careful. Don’t follow up your recent shopping spree with a trip to the local 7-Eleven and stock up on Twinkies and mini-pizzas. This could add even more to your debt load.

So, what have we learned here? Make sure to get to your monthly credit card statement before your wife does? Perhaps a smaller and less dramatic tattoo? Perhaps growing a “garden” of your own? All valid points, but I think the more important lesson here is to use credit cards as a last resort. The questions you should always ask before you use your credit card, “Do I absolutely need this?” “Can I afford the new debt” and “Do I have any other choice.” If you answer yes to any of these questions, use the card, but pay off the balance quickly before the payments and interest put too strong a chokehold on you. And if your debt load does become too much to handle, consider Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. It works.

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