Marie recently made a terrific response in Ask the Readers: What if you have no credit history? This thread is a month old and most people probably missed the comment, so I’m featuring it here.
I am a bit shocked that someone would be so irresponsible as to tell someone else to “suck it up and get a credit card”. Are there hassles about not having a score? Yes. But there are a lot more hassles about having debt and/or using a debt instrument. Especially this day and age when you can use a debit card.
I am 37 and was as disciplined as you sound when I was your age. I started out only buying small amounts of stuff I would normally have purchased anyway. Then it grew to everything I would have bought anyway and on and on. It took about eight years for me to realize that I was in serious debt and needed to do something about it. It just crept up on me. Not that it will happen to you, but it could. So is it really worth the risk?
Debt also caused me to not aggressively go after saving for an emergency fund. In the back of mind I knew that I could always use the credit card as an emergency fund. I also tended to buy more when I used the credit card instead of cash. I got “cloned” and had my identity stolen numerous times because I used credit cards. My life would have been a lot simpler had I done without them.
Truly responsible adults will live below their means. I don’t mean that to be insulting but Dave Ramsey is right: a two-year old will throw a tantrum to get the cereal they want because they want it now. Just wait an extra couple of years until you have the money to pay cash. Surely if you’re disciplined enough to pay off the credit card each month, you can do that.
And don’t even get me started about all the things that have happened to friends and family because someone co-signed or put someone on their account.
Why succumb to the norm? Why follow the pack? Fight back and refuse to get sucked in. If you’re going to have to “suck it up”, then fight against the system instead of being such a wimp. “Suck it up” by refusing to play the credit card game — live like a college student longer than your friends do and live below your means.
I am a landlord and I would never turn someone down as a tenant if they could show me they were financially responsible and that that’s why they have no credit score. Also, they’re right, you can, as I have done, get a mortgage through manual underwriting and then pay it off in five years. And, if I ever had a prospective employee who came to me and explained the reason they don’t have a credit score is because they don’t believe in debt, live below their means, and paid cash for their assets (I paid cash for my first small, $40k condo), then I would (oh, and have) hire them on the spot. For someone, in my opinion, to have the courage to stand up for their principles and actually follow through with what they believe — well, that’s someone I want on my team.
I only make $40k. I’ve never made more. I rent out my first condo, have zero debt, a four-year old car, and a house. I max out my savings. I have zero stress! I live like a queen with all the spending money I have each month. The best part is is that I’ll be a stay at mom in a few years. As an added bonus, the friends that made fun of me incessantly for driving a used Ford Festiva, without AC, (in Houston, mind you) for ten years, well, every single one of my has admired me and wished they had done the same. They’re upside-down on their cars, have no retirement because they kept raiding it due to some “emergency” and aren’t able to, sometimes, maintain their house like they should because they spent so much money on buying furnishings on credit because at 26 they had to have a showplace. Well, now their showplace is out of date. They’re stuck and can’t do anything because they’re not allowed any more credit. Think it won’t happen to you? Ha. These are attorneys, pilots, NASA engineers. Now, are they all in that bad? No. But every single one of them has some major issue. I have none.
If you are truly determined to not get into debt, then don’t. Work at it. then you’ll be able to retire like me before your 40 (if you want to).
There. Enough of my soapbox.
I agree with Marie: it’s foolish to tell somebody that they must get a credit card. There’s no one right way to be smart about money — it’s not wrong to avoid debt. Remember: do what works for you. If a person wants to avoid credit, she should be encouraged. If a person uses credit responsibly, he should not be condemned. There are advantages and disadvantages to both.
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