College 101: The Evils Of Credit Cards

No more Pencils…

Congratulations! You made it. All of the studying, classes, money spent on books, late-night cramming, term papers and essays, exams, stress, despair and anxiety has now come to an end. Unfortunately, so has the partying, Spring Breaks, meal plans, living right nextdoor (or, at least, within walking distance) to good friends, sports events, spontaneous road trips, roommates, Greek Life, and all of the other things that you will look back on and sigh about.

That’s right. You’re a grown up. A bona-fide adult.

Kinda scary, isn’t it?

No more Books…

What you do have to look forward to is your independence… and to fully supporting it yourself. Credit card bills, rent, groceries, utilities, and, of course, the dreaded student loans. You shouldn’t depend on Mom and Dad anymore, folks. It’s time to join the “real world.”

Isn’t that funny? When we were high school seniors, we couldn’t wait to go to college and join the “real world.” Then, we went to college. While we’re in college, we don’t exactly realize how good we’ve got it until we graduate. Once that diploma is in our grubby, little paws, two words hit us like a ton of bricks…


No more Teachers’ Dirty Looks!

You are truly on your own. Oh, sure, you’ll have a support system, but the decisions that you make are going to be a reflection of you and you alone. Choose wisely. of course, you’ll make mistakes. Just make the ones that you’ll be able to resolve or live with.

The biggest problem is going to be finances. It doesn’t matter if you get a high-paying job immediately after college, or are unemployed for a significant amount of time: You’re going to have financial issues.

The financial issues usually are caused by financial mistakes made during college or in the couple of years following graduation. Once you realize that you’ve gotten in over your head, it’s too late and it will take years to dig yourself out.

Credit Cards are the root of all evil

When we’re in college, we look for any way to get money or just buy things. I had 3 jobs at the same time when I attended University of Alaska – Anchorage, and 2 st the same time during my undergrad at The George Washington University. But how many people, much less college students, actually want to work for their money?

We search for things to do for cash. Some of us become guinea pigs for the university hospital. Others branch out into the community and babysit. Some just beg mom and dad for cash. Of course, there’s always the job option. but, what’s the point of having money if you don’t have time to spend it?

Then, IT happens. We go shopping with our friends at a mall and waltz into our favorite store. We see something that is just a little out of our price range. And then, we see the sign to glory:


So, you find a sales associate and you ask how you can save 10% off of your purchase. You’re told that you can sign up for their store’s credit card and save 10%. Plus, you only have to make minimum payments every month.

That’s it. You’re done. Hook, line and sinker. Don’t worry– It has happened to the best of us. Shoot, I’m still paying off my first credit card from Victoria’s Secret! It appears to me that 90% of credit card holders got their first credit card from a store– probably their favorite store.

Once your name is in the system, you start receiving “amazing offers” from the likes of Visa, MasterCard, American Express and all of those other companies. You see how easy it is to pay a minimum payment every month, so you go for it. Suddenly, your wallet is filled with credit cards! You show off, paying for dinners with your friends, picking up bartabs, buying things you don’t need, going on trips… and, the worst of the worst, getting cash advances.


I know it’s tempting. I’m still paying off my college debt, and I’m nearly 28 years old. I’m not saying to not get a credit card. Shoot, we all need to have some sort of credit card to establish a credit history for future purchases, like a house and a car. What I’m saying is that you have to be responsible with your credit. Don’t buy things that you don’t really need. If you do spend, be sure to pay your credit card account more than just the minimum due when you receive the bill. Otherwise, you’ll get hit with major interest charges.

Whatever you do, DO NOT get a cash advance from your credit card. You will get killed with finance charges because these charges are MUCH higher than the regular interest charges. I’m still paying off borrowing against my card in 1997.

Unfortunately, your credit history stays with you for a very long time. The biggest mistakes with finances stem from college. Trust me, I made ALL of them. You don’t want to carry debt with you when you graduate. Prepare for your financial life by being responsible with your charging privileges.