Lack of Financial Advice from Fellow Shoppers
Speaking about money and finances seems to remain taboo, despite the many other topics gaining acceptance by society. The only way to break that trend is to simply start talking more openly about it.
As I’ve stated in many previous posts, I use my credit card for nearly all of my purchases. I only allow myself to do this because I pay my bill in full and on time each month to avoid the high interest and fees normally associated with credit cards. The reason I make so many purchases by credit card is to reduce the number of bills I receive each month and to maximize the travel rewards I receive through my card.
It amazes me that no one has ever questioned my use of a credit card. Fellow shoppers routinely see me using my credit card, but none has ever warned me of the dangers of such use. I would expect someone to say something eventually, given that I use my card so much and often use it for small purchases. Something as simple as, “Do you know how much that gallon of milk is going to cost you?” could open a meaningful discussion of interest rates and how long it takes to pay off credit card debt. As the average American household with at least one credit card has nearly $9,200 in credit card debt, those shopping along with me could easily assume that I too carry debt, in which case they’d be right to believe my $3 milk purchase could end up costing much more. This discussion would be quickly dismissed if I explained that I pay off my card in full, but it would still be nice to be asked.
Some readers may believe that shoppers generally mind their own business and would never offer advice. My counter-argument to that idea is the frequency with which parents (myself included) are berated with unsolicited parenting advice whenever they go shopping with young children. I can’t seem to get through the line in Target even once without getting some form of parental advice, yet I have never received any credit card guidance. So I do believe that it’s the subject matter—money— rather than the apparent rudeness of unsolicited advice that prevents people from offering any suggestions.
Of course, it may also be that those shopping along with you are themselves ignorant to the woes of credit card use and debt. While you may not be willing to offer any unsolicited financial advice to strangers, I hope that you will at least consider being more open about money and finances with your friends and family. Send them here to the Lending Club blog if you’re not comfortable discussing such matters with them directly. Doing so may help them to learn something about their use of credit and may even inspire them to consolidate their high-interest credit card debt with a peer-to-peer loan from Lending Club.
Tuesday, February 26th, 2008 at 6:58 am