The hidden costs of credit

As 22seven recently published on medium.com, “Always think twice before you buy something on credit or take out a loan.”

Here’s the thing to remember with credit – it’s just a nicer way of saying that you’re spending money you don’t have. In other words, you’re using someone else’s money to fund your current lifestyle. Credit is sold to us on the premise that it’s money we will have in the future, and often we do have the money in time and can pay it all back, but sometimes we don’t, and we just keep borrowing more. This is when we get stuck.

This continual servicing of debt becomes a hidden cost to our future self, and then the interest and account fees all start adding up, so we look for additional credit providers to help us. From banks to store credit, a recent US study showed that the average American debt (per U.S. adult) is $58,604 and 77% of households have at least some type of debt.

Whilst this will vary from region to region, country to country, it’s safe to assume that most people in today’s global economy have accepted credit to support their current living standard.

This is not necessarily wrong or right, but it’s something we have to talk about and know that we’re all in the same boat together. When we stifle conversations about money, we succumb to unhealthy thoughts and feelings about our financial situations that divide us rather than connect us.

So, before you take on any more credit, make sure you’ve given some thought to the following things:

  1. Is my income enough to cover the full cost of this credit (not the items bought – credit will always cost more)
  2. With inflation, will I still be able to pay for this credit comfortably?
  3. If I had the cash available, would I still spend it on this (or these)
  4. What are the extra costs, like card and account fees, interest, insurance etc

Credit has hidden financial costs, but it also has costs to our emotional, physical and mental wellbeing from the stress of creating too much debt. It’s hard to live without debt, but it’s not impossible to keep it to a manageable amount or reduce it entirely.

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