Credit Card: To use or not

My mother gave me my first credit card when I was in my first year in high school. It was called an extension card where the primary cardholder is my mom while I have the same privilege as her about the amount that I could use which that time was php 25,000.00 and that was 1992. As time passed, the amount I could use went up too from 25,000.00 to 200,000.00 pesos. It was like going on a shopping spree  for free.

When I reached College, I still has that credit card and my mother was not complaining. She paid all the expenses even if I am always in a shopping mode. I was working then too, being one of the freelancer sales personnel from Smart where there’s no pre- paid card yet but lines, I am also selling my uncles Issey Miyake perfumes from the states where he was working then. I could buy everything without using my credit card. It’s very addictive. There even came a time when one designer store like Armani or DKNY, even though there’s nothing else that I like, I can still keep on looking just to buy something even though that dress or pants will just sit or sleep in my closet for like centuries. My closet was still full of new jeans, shirts or bags with tags on them.

When I got married everything changed. My husband and I went to a whole new world where the grass is greener and they said, it’s the land of milk and honey. America is full of everything, from two door BMW cars which you could only buy for $10,000.00 or a speedy 35 monogram Louis Vuitton bag for $450.00. It’s like you are in heaven. Apples and oranges are everywhere. September is the apple picking season where the farm or apple orchard is open for the public to pick the apples.

The hubby gave me two credit cards, one is the American Express and the other one is a Visa. In the states, if the shopper doesn’t have a credit card, some stores or department stores like Macy’s or Bloomingdale’s offer you a credit card that you could use right away after a couple of calls, on the spot. It’s like those shops will not let you go home without purchasing anything even if you don’t have any cash on your wallet. Very tempting specially with all the good things around you and not to mention on “sale” products or mostly called as “clearance” products.

In the states there are four seasons like Summer, Fall, Winter and Spring. For every season the department stores change also their stocks from dresses to shoes. That  is the start of clearance sale, those old stocks from the Fall designs will be on sale if the season is Winter. That’s the time also that credit card users are maximizing their privilege without thinking the monthly payment at the end.

America is where almost all people around the world meet. Most of the immigrants are  from India, China and the Philippines. They are coming in flocks that is why there is a limit for those countries that would like to immigrate every year. Thinking of the relatives left behind, sale products are most common gifts to them especially with the Filipino Community . The “Balikbayan” box can be bought for a small amount with a shipping charge between $95.00 to $150.00 and and can be filled with a lot of sale items. I remember going to one New York State outlet store that day, then go back the next day because of the  sale of Tommy Hilfigger Polo Shirt that cost only $5.00 each and yes I am using then my credit cards. I bought the whole stock.

Here comes the sad part, though one can pay the credit cards with a minimum payment, if it piles up, the heaven while shopping will turn into hell when paying. That was 1998, the hubby salary was $3,000.00 montly and comparing the amount of one burger from Mc Donalds which is 0.99 cents, you could imagine right away that his work is good. He was working then at Wall Street, New York City where we all know as the city that never sleeps, life then was different, the only problem I had is what will be the dinner which I could easily order at the Chinese food around the corner via phone call. That’s why I really cannot forget the “General Tso Chicken”. That spicy sweet and sour sauce, yes I am into food.

Excited with the same lifestyle I had while in the Philippines then, my life was like a dream. Never thought that one day, I’ll curse having a credit card. Time flies, after 7 years, my lifestyle is the same. Got plenty of designer’s bags, credit cards became 5 with all the department stores credit cards. Every year, I had a new car from Toyota two door sports car Celica to 4×4 Sports Utility vehicle from Dodge. I am living the American dream. That was the time  when that September 11 attack hit the nation.

The terrorist attack not only stopped all businesses in New York City but also the lives of more than 3000 fatalities and the lives of all workers in that area. All agencies especially the US government are monitoring everything and everyone. While the immigrants or those workers who had a temporary working permits were afraid about their future in which they thought, America was untouchable. I had one little girl that time and though even my husband company was still not functioning for almost 4 months, the US government gave them salaries though not in full.

Life became different, after that fateful event and everyone moves on, I got two more baby daughters and yes life with the twins was very different unlike with single child. Diapers, milk and time became the priorities, even my parents were helping me in taking good care of them. Financially, it’s different and while the hubby was still in shock of what happened on that September 11 attack, we decided to come home, yes in the Philippines even though we are in an immigrant status already and no visa anymore attached to our Philippine passports.

The three babies are all Americans and we are happy that they are, the economy in the states is still way far different in the Philippines. Food there is still different here specially the fresh produce. Hospital benefits or Health benefits are way too different, they will give you the best room and first class services in the states as long as you have a health card like Aetna.

In the Philippines, I continued my lifestyle. My mother was still that generous to buy us anything our heart desires even that Php 22,000.00 pesos Coach bag that I only used thrice till today. I still spent a lot even with three ready to go to school kids. That’s the time when the hardest part in my life became my own hell, when my dad decided to sell all his properties. Life in the Philippines even the employees salaries is different, a common manager in one company received only php 80,000.00 to 200,000.00 pesos which if we are going to check all the increase in prices like toll fees, meat, gasoline or even some basic products, they all go up but not the salaries. My credit card purchases went up and comes a time I cannot pay even the minimum amount. That’s when I decided to stop to use my plastic. I stop buying designers bags in the Philippines not to mention much costly than the cost of the same model bag in the states. I even tried to budget or check everything, to canvass the materials before buying or even stopped going to big shops and department stores. I did everything and I succeeded. I paid all my credit cards and till now, nothing but cash. That’s one lesson, yes it’s for convenience but once you started to get away with one, it will be as addictive as smoking.

Based on the study. A person with a credit card is most likely to buy more than the person with only cash as a budget for shopping or buying. This is because using credit card is like shopping everything without thinking that at the end you will still paying for that without thinking the consequences or the money that you have from the bank or savings. That is why there are people, same as I am, learned this lesson in a hard way but succeeded because of determination to live again with good quality of life and for the future of the children.

Satisfaction is one that every Joes or Juan is expecting to gain. People are working to buy or get something for himself or his family. Sometimes they said that money could buy happiness, oh yes! maybe, can solve some problems but not all. Credit cards are there or invented for purchasing and convenience. Anything more than that is wrong and worst if not stopped. I am only talking about my experience and yes till now, even though I am using only cash, I still miss having a credit card.

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