Living with credit

Co-workers share craziest credit card buys

Emily Crone

It’s no secret that I have a tendency to impulse shop. The last few months, however, I’ve made a concerted effort to cut back and save as much as possible for a two-week trip to Europe this summer. It’s been hard, but I’ve developed some new techniques, such as thinking long and hard about whether I really need (and will actually use) a product before I throw it in the shopping cart.

I still occasionally find myself succumbing to urges. I had badly wanted an Amazon Kindle — a wireless reading device — that was going for $399) from the moment the product was released late last year, but couldn’t bear to fork over the moolah. It immediately sold out online and had a perpetual waiting list, so people on eBay were selling it for way over what it was worth. Then about two weeks ago, I noticed that Kindles were back in stock online, which meant the eBay price would go down, too.

I kept telling myself that if I could just wait for the next version, I’d spend less and get a better product. But I saw one on eBay recently and couldn’t help but bid on it. I won the brand new Kindle for $30 less than retail and put it on the plastic since I needed May’s paycheck to cover some of it. I immediately felt guilty for the large purchase, but then considered that I have been working hard, haven’t gone clothes or shoe shopping in a while and had wanted one for many moons. Plus, it would be extra handy on all the train rides I plan to take in Europe. The Kindle arrived last week and I have already fallen in love with it.

That’s probably the largest impulse purchase I’ve made with a credit card in a while. I figured many others probably had similar moments when they just couldn’t resist something, so I asked my co-workers to share their best impulsive credit card purchases. Here they are:

    • A flight to Jamaica that was so impulsive I had to cancel it a week later. — Kevin B.
    • Spent $1,000 on a guitar back when I was making $17,000 a YEAR (first job out of college).
    • Went to France for a month when I was in between that job and the next, because when else do you have the time to spend a month in France? — Anonymous
    • On my first card, a pair of running shoes that ended up costing me $3,000 in late fees and finance charges. — Christian L.
    • A massage chair at a Brookstone in the Houston Airport on a layover.– Anonymous
    • A handmade wooden automata of Anubis doing situps — John S.
    • Speaking as a witness, not a participant, I’ve watched in disbelief (unfortunately more than once) people obtaining cash advances on their credit cards from Las Vegas casinos’ ATMs and then running straight to the gaming tables to try and reverse their fortunes with Lady Luck.  An expensive losing proposition. — Anonymous
    • I was up late taking care of a sick child, watching infomercials, and saw one for an electric tooth flosser, and I had to have it immediately! I ordered it there and then and paid the extra fee to have it shipped overnight. And the thing was worthless. I couldn’t even get it through my teeth, but managed to make myself bleed several ways. — Mark L.

What’s your most impulsive or wackiest credit card purchase?

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