I’ve made some pretty dumb debt decisions in my life. I’ll list my “Top 5” starting with the “dumb” and finishing with the “dumbest”.
Dumbest Debt Decisions Ever: #1
At 16 years of age, I started working at a local retail store. I worked in the “Mens Department” selling jeans, khakis, socks, etc. One of the the things we had to ask customers was, “Would you like to apply for a credit card and receive 10% off today’s purchase?”. I HATED asking people to fill out credit “apps”, but I was required to get 10 per month in order to get a $25 bonus. At 16, $25 is a LOT of money! One month, with just one day to get my 10th application, I was stuck at 9. I decided to fill out one for MYSELF, so that I could get the $25 bonus. My dad co-signed the application and I was approved for the card. Of course, once I received the card, I also received a 10% discount coupon, good for a one day “shopping spree”, provided I used my shiny new credit card. I was dating a girl at the time, and I figured that it was the right time to buy her a “nice” gift. I purchased a ring for her from the jewelry department. I believe that the ring cost about $400. Now, that may not sound like a lot of money, but at the time I was making about $4 an hour. In other words, I would half to work 100 HOURS to pay for the ring. I was working about 20 hours a week. Do the math. Needless to say, as a love-struck 16 year old, I didn’t really “think this thing through”. My interest rate? 19%? How long did it actually take for me to pay the ring off? Longer than our relationship lasted! Less than a month after I gave her the ring, we broke up. She kept the ring. I kept the credit card bill!
Ah, the beauty of my first credit purchase…