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Money Matters:

The trouble with accessibility

by Desmonde Delce

According to the The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition (© 2000), accessible has several meanings:

1. Easily approached or entered.

2. Easily obtained: accessible money.

3. Easy to talk to or get along with.

4. Easily swayed or influenced: accessible to flattery.

A credit card can be very useful. It makes money accessible (definition no. 2), but this accessibility conceals a dark secret: if you don’t pay back the credit advances—loans—your life might change for the worse. Someone I know learned the hard way.

My friend (let’s call him Jack) had four credit cards. He used each card for a different purpose. The sight of his Platinum card made dollar signs dance in the eyes of drink servers at his favorite club. The Gold Card bought him burgers and fries after a night of clubbing. His gas card filled up his car (saving him two cents a gallon). His all-purpose card bought everything else.

Jack’s credit limit for each card was $1,000. At one point his balance on each card was $900. He would use one credit card to pay the minimum amount due for another card. Soon, all of his cards were maxed out, and the credit card companies kept calling and mailing him past due notices. Jack could not afford to go out, pay for meals, or pay his rent. He was forced to drop out of college, go back home, and live with his parents for a couple years.

Last month I asked him how life was going. “I’m okay,” Jack said. Of course, I had to ask him how many credit cards he had.

“ I have one, ” he said, and added after a slight pause, “I keep it locked in a safe under a pile of newspapers. I’ve learned that the more accessible my credit cards are, the more trouble it brings me.”

 

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