Living with credit

Emily’s list: Too reliant on plastic edition

Emily Crone

Earlier this week, I went to run an errand during lunchtime and stopped at a small neighborhood gas station. I swiped my credit card, entered my ZIP code and waited. Eventually, I was told there was a network error. I looked up, and people at the other pumps had puzzled looks on their face.

The station had a small kiosk with a cashier rather than a store. I saw a man yelling at the cashier. He was upset that he had swiped his card only to get an error message, without anything indicating that the transaction was completely over. He demanded to know if they still have his credit card information. Was it at risk of getting stolen? Would he be charged if someone else pulled up and tried to get gas? I hadn’t been worried about that — I just wanted gas — but then he made me worried, especially when the cashier didn’t know the answers. The man left in a huff. Too reliant on plastic edition

I went up to the kiosk myself to see if my credit card would work at his station since I didn’t have enough cash on me. He said he wasn’t sure if my card would work or how long it would take. I only had $5 cash, so I needed the card to work, or I would have to go elsewhere. Luckily he was able to get it to process, but the line was growing and people were getting irritable or leaving.

I’ve always wondered what would happen if a crisis caused all network connections to go down or electricity to fail, which would prevent credit card processing from working. The amount of confusion and irritability I saw on a regular Wednesday afternoon at a gas station made me worried about what would happen in a real emergency. We have all become so reliant on our plastic. While my credit and debit cards have been invaluable tools in my personal finance arsenal, I may have to admit (much to my husband’s excitement) that perhaps I really should carry a little emergency cash money. But unless I absolutely have to, I love paying for gas with my credit or debit cards so that I don’t have to try to predict how much I need to spend ahead of time. Have you had an experience like this where you were caught off guard by technology failing?

For plenty of great personal finance tips and advice, read on for my list of my 10 favorite blog posts from the past week.

1. For those whose New Year’s Resolution was to save more money, The Amateur Financier provides advice on how to stick to it and be successful.

2. Little House in the Valley shares some sneaky ways you can trick your mind into saving more money.

3. Len Penzo warns about several personal finance rules of thumb that may not be such good advice after all.

4. The Family CEO reveals an easy way to turn product rebates into extra debt payments.

5. You’re finally debt-free — now what? Financial Excellence discusses what your priorities should be once your debts are paid off.

6. A guest post on Sustainable Life Blog uses his own parents’ financial smarts to explain how you can help your kids have a successful future.

7. On a very similar note, a guest post on Fiscal Phoenix discusses how you can raise a child who is so financially wise that he or she is equipped to become a millionaire.

8. In light of the recent Zappos security breach, Narrow Bridge Finance lists several ways to protect your financial data online.

9. Squirrels reminds us of the importance of thoroughly checking credit card statements to insure there are no unauthorized charges or errors.

10. Budgeting in the Fun Stuff features a guest post from a woman who thought she was gaming the system by playing balance transfer roulette, but soon realized it was a dangerous game.

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  • Hugh

    It’s pretty crazy to think about how much people rely on a bit of plastic actually, isn’t it? I always try to have some cash with me too just in case anything goes wrong but that’s easier said than done!