Whether you are purchasing a textbook at the Kennel Bookstore, looking to stock up on groceries at the local supermarket or buying a pack of your favorite gum at a gas station, the process is always the same once the cashier sees you whipping out that piece of plastic from your wallet.
The person who rings up your purchases will proceed to ask whether you are paying with debit or credit.
I never choose the latter method because I am part of the 16 percent of undergraduate students who do not carry a credit card, according to an April 2009 study by Sallie Mae.
Adamancy is not the reason I do not have a credit card. Admittedly (and almost shamefully), the reason I do not carry a credit card is mainly due to an absolute mistrust in myself.
The reason people use credit cards is because they are a convenient alternative when you have to make a purchase of the utmost necessity now, yet lack sufficient funds with no payday in sight.
But one impulse too strong to control — or even several small expenses that inconspicuously add up to be equally astronomical in debt — and whether or not I’ll graduate in four years might become the least of my worries.
We all hear the horror stories at one point or another. Such as the one about the student who amassed $5,000 in debt and had to subsequently drop out of school and work full-time to pay it off. Or how about the one about how a student, victim to frivolous spending and poor credit, has to rely on the co-signing of someone of blind faith so they can acquire their student loans.
While credit cards are essential toward building good credit for the future, the responsibility of having a credit card is one that students take on too early and too lightly — with no consideration of the possible consequences.
For strictly debit users, the consequences of poor money handling are a twenty-something dollar overdraft fee and the embarrassing feeling of having to resort to the change in your car’s cup holders until your next check deposit, not surmounting debt, blanketed by seemingly low and innocuous interest rates.
According to Sallie Mae, the average senior will graduate with more than $4,000 in credit card debt. This number can be reduced radically if students postpone getting their first credit card until they are at least upperclassmen or feel that they have the proper means of getting one.
I am a full proponent of not having a credit card because of the idea that a bank account does not have some sort of magical ceiling that allows me to spend money that I simply do not have — as much as I wish to believe otherwise.
Though eventually, there will be an occasion when the inequality of earnings over expenses will invert. Then, I will be forced to join the 160 million credit card holders that the U.S. Census Bureau projects there will be by 2012.
But until that point comes, I’ll continue to use debit only — and the handfuls upon handfuls of change that has culminated in my car’s cup holders.