I’ve been there. Four different credit card bills came in the mail each month: Visa, American Express, Best Buy (because they gave me a 10% discount when I bought 3 CDs), and Sears. Their balances only added up to a couple of thousand dollars each, and making the minimum payment wasn’t so bad. Then the transmission blew in my car and I had no emergency fund to pay for it.
So I put that on the credit card. I was lazy so I would routinely pay late and then get dinged with a $35 late fee. Then the card companies would jack up my interest rate. Somewhere the invisible elves that kept track of my credit score were shaking the heads and “tsk-tsk-ing” as my chances of ever getting a mortgage in the future were plummeting. Soon I was paying more each month on interest, late fees, annual charges, and ATM cash advance fees than I was for my rent.
So just like the former high-school quarterback who looks down and notices that his belly fat is obscuring the nether half of his torso, I knew it was time to do something. It was time to get back in shape.
“If only I knew then,” I sometimes think. If only I knew the following 10 things about money when I was 18, I could have avoided that whole mess.