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One millennial’s take on leading a credit card-free life

Aundraya Ruse

I have a confession to make. I work for CreditCards.com and I don’t actually have a credit card.

When I was in high school, around the age of 17, I remember getting dozens of credit card offers in the mail on a regular basis. Before the Credit CARD Act of 2009, card companies loved the 17-year-olds of the world. We were financial idiots. To me, though, those credit card offers seemed like spam mail unworthy of even being acknowledged – and I didn’t.

I guess I never understood the concept of spending money I didn’t have. I was given a small allowance as a teenager, and if I spent it all by Tuesday – well, then, that was just tough luck. It wasn’t until I went to college that I was forced to face the world of money-borrowing.

It wasn’t long before I was rolling deep in student loan debt and NOT pursuing a degree in engineering or anything else ultimately leading to a high-paying career.

With all that loan money/debt racking up, opening up a credit card was the last thing on my mind. I did, however, open one credit card at a clothing store to buy a pair of jeans because doing so took about 10 bucks off the price or something like that. I paid it off online the next day.

Now, here I am, at 23, with zero credit cards and thus, zero credit card debt. Is that really a good thing though? I mean, of course it is for the obvious reasons – I don’t have that extra couple thousand dollars looming on top of all my student loan debt. But, I’m not building any credit, either, which is going to be important when I start doing “adult” things – like buying a car or a house.

It’s nice to know, at least, that I am not alone in this. Studies show that now, more than ever, people my age are relying heavily on debit cards to make purchases. According to an article called “Millennials are Key to Debit’s Success,”
we use debit cards more than any other demographic. The article attributes this to our technology-savviness alongside our need for convenience. However – for me, at least – it’s because that debit card is where my money is. The money I’ve earned from working. The money that I have to find a way to make last. And doggone it, make it last I will! But not by opening up a whole world of trouble through new debt.

I can assure you that credit cards are in my near future. It is an essential part of growing up. You have to build credit. That’s just the way it is. But for now, I’ll stick to debit.

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  • Ben

    you can build credit by paying off your student loans.