Have you ever been involved with ice cream?
I’m talking a serious love affair.
You’re a modern woman. You take the lead in the relationship. It’s date night, so you pick him up and take him back to your place.
You leave him in the kitchen while you get changed. He needs time to chill out.
You want to make sure that when you’re ready, he’s ready.
You re-enter the room and there he is – waiting patiently. No words are spoken. They aren’t necessary.
You undo the lid. You’re not worried about proper etiquette. You’re not worried about what he might think.
You’re a woman that knows exactly what she wants. At that very moment, it’s him.
You want the luscious, buttery, sweet satisfying goodness that he has to offer.
You grab the spoon. Who needs a bowl anyway?
You dive in deep and let out that first satisfying sigh. (Maybe it’s more of a slow moan.)
You have a couple bites then you replace the lid and go about your merry way.
Oh, you have more than a couple of bites.
You have so many bites that now you can see the bottom of the container.
Then you start to silently curse him as if it’s his fault you ate the WHOLE thing.
Now you’re telling your girlfriends about him. How he’s bad for you and that they should stay away from him too.
You declare ice cream as the devil and roll your eyes at him next time you pass him in the supermarket.
Hmph! You’ve got a lot of nerve, woman!
Well, let me tell you something. (Anytime someone says this to you, you know a passionate blunt message is sure to follow)
Ice cream is not the devil.
It can’t possibly be.
It has been there for me too many times when I’ve needed it – during birthdays, movie night at home and after tonsil surgery.
Ice cream is more like a little slice of heaven, that I keep in my freezer and break out as needed.
It’s definitely not the devil.
But I digress…for now.
Credit cards get a bad rap. Just like ice cream. Some people treat credit like it’s Freddy Krueger or Michael Myers.
Maybe at some point in your life, you got a little over zealous with your credit cards. Bill collectors were chasing you down like a scene from Friday the 13th.
Maybe you ate the entire container of ice cream maxed out your card.
But why take it out on the card? Why trash it to your friends as if it magically swiped itself?
“I’m mad as hell and I’m not gonna take this anymore.” (Peter Finch – Network, 1976)
Somebody should stand up for Salted Caramel, Pistachio and Vanilla Bean.
Somebody should also stand up for Blue, Slate and Quicksilver.
Credit cards have a ton of lobbyists in Washington, they really don’t need me to stand up for them.
I completely understand the argument that credit card companies take advantage of people.
But wouldn’t you have to place a similar blame on Ben & Jerry’s and Bunny Bell? (I’m just saying)
I’ve been in credit card trouble before.
I understand the pain it can bring. I had too many college offers and clothing store sales that foolishly I felt I couldn’t live without.
But eventually, I focused on reducing my debt the same way others are focused on losing weight and improving their health. I focused on 1 card at a time.
I am not a student of the “close all your cards” school of thought. I believe credit cards, when used responsibly, can make life a little easier. More convenient.
As busy as I am, I like convenience!
I would much rather someone steal my credit card then my debit card. (I’d rather people not steal my stuff at all, but you catch my drift)
I don’t want to rent a car and have $250 PLUS the cost of the rental held on my actual money versus held from my available credit.
I like receiving cash back on purchases that I know I will make anyway. Even if it’s only 1%, I’d rather have it in my pocket than not.
While you can build strong credit through installment loans (mortgages, car loans and school loans) the absence of good credit or any credit at all can make getting those loans much more difficult.
Usually, credit cards are the easiest type of credit to get when you’re younger, your income is limited and you haven’t built enough history to prove your credit-worthiness.
For most people who handle credit cards correctly, they are the gateway to low-interest car and home loans.
Certain jobs even require you to have good credit before they will hire you.
One of the reasons that so many of us have gotten into trouble with cards is because we weren’t taught the proper way to handle them.
Plus, we have waaaay more credit card offers being thrown our way than our parents ever did.
Credit cards didn’t become popular until after the 1950’s, so it’s not even fair to blame them.
I realize that a high-interest rate credit card can be more detrimental than the fat content in chocolate brownie fudge ice cream.
However, a kid’s size scoop of yogurt or sherbert can feel just as good as a 0% interest rate offer for 18 months. (At least it does in my world)
Ultimately, I understand that it really comes down to discipline and lifestyle preference. If you choose to manage your finances on a cash based system because you know you have the potential to have a credit swiping marathon, I get it.
Maybe you like not having to worry about paying the bill at the end of the month. Being credit card free feels cleaner and simpler for you.
But if you do have self-discipline and you know that given a second chance you could handle the relationship, then I say keep your cards open.
You’ve vowed to pay off your debt and forbid yourself from getting in credit card trouble again.
If you can figure how to use them in a way that benefits you, don’t be intimidated.
Credit is not the devil. Maybe you need to pick your 1 favorite card.
1 scoop, 1 love affair at a time…
There’s also a way to use your cards and not pay ridiculous interest. There’s a way to make them work for you.
The opportunity to transfer balances to low fee/low interest rate cards was one of the solutions I used to get out of debt.
I wasn’t making a bunch of money and my personal financial situation wasn’t going to change drastically any time soon, but the seesaw strategy worked for me.
So, while you may not like the numbers on the scale or your credit report, be realistic about where some of the blame really lies.
There’s no one way to manage your debt and personal finances. Like dieting, moderation, and not deprivation, is the key.
Just because ice cream credit cards broke your heart a time or two, doesn’t mean you can’t find the right fit for you.
I’m a hopeless romantic. 30 day grace periods, 0% interest and travel bonus points are the way to my heart!
Select one credit card you think you might be able to fall in love with. You don’t have to use it, or apply right away. Just keep it on your radar.
Disclaimer Notice: As a friendly reminder, I am not an attorney nor certified financial advisor. I don’t even get to play one on TV. Therefore, the information within this article and website is provided for informational purposes only. Please consult with the proper legal or financial professional before taking action. Deciding to take a stab at things without proper consultation is at your own risk, beautiful.
Founder & Managing Director
Nikki is a 16-year financial services professional and the founder & primary personal financial strategist for The FIIRM Approach. She helps female breadwinners avoid common financial mistakes during a divorce or after a recent uncoupling. She is keenly focused on helping women confidently maintain their financial security with proven strategies for living with a budget, managing debt, and improving their credit score. TAKE ACTION & LEARN about the tools that can help make your new money life easier. Grab your FREE 2019 Ultimate Resource Guide HERE.