While in college, I was an average student. I’d sprinkle in few A’s, mix in a B here or there and offset this educational stew with more C’s than my parents wanted to see and I won't disclose anything lower. There was, however, one area where I excelled and surpassed my fellow peers with an A++, credit card debt accumulation.
The average college senior today graduates with a credit card bill of $4,138. When I left school in 2002, I had racked up a credit card bill of $27,393. That’s nearly 7x’s the national average. I am not proud of that total, but it is cathartic in admitting it to any that may stumble across this post.
The sad part about my debt, none of that total was due to educational costs. No computer purchase, no expensive books and no school bill paid. I’m one of the fortunate few who had parents flipping the college bill. I wasn’t forced to withdraw like many who struggled to pay their college tuition bills and credit card debt. Unfortunately, I wasn’t being a wise steward of what I was being given and didn’t realize this until much later in life.
My college spending spree wasn’t hidden from my parents. In fact, they paid the minimum monthly payment on top of my college tuition fees. Before anyone comment about my parents, let me be very clear, I made the mistake with my out of control credit spending past, not them. They were trying to help me out. And in fact, they are in large part responsible for my stellar FICO score since I was never delinquent or past due.
They did confront me with my out of control spending habits. To this day, I remember that uncomfortable conversation in my parent’s bedroom. My dad couldn’t believe I was spending my evenings eating out and weekends shopping while they pinched pennies and saved for my education. He took my cards away, but I secretly kept my favorite affinity White Sox card. I was stupid to think they would always bail me out and magically pay off the balances once I graduated.
My day of reckoning was fast approaching.