Mr. Micah and I were watching tv the other day and that Visa (or is it Mastercard?*) commercial came on. You’ve probably seen it. The well-oiled machine of people just swiping and moving on until someone whips out a checkbook or cash. Oh no! The whole thing collapses.
Mr. Micah turned to me and said, “The well-oiled machine is threatened when we take time to think about a purchase.” I wrote it down because it’s so true.**
I don’t know exactly what the CC company is trying to imply here. That people who use non-credit forms are backwards? That they’re getting in everyone’s way? Or perhaps the simpler message that using credit helps you go faster. That’s true, but I’ve taken classes on semiotics and rarely are ads so benign.
Everyone is threatened by people who pay in cash. Studies say that they spend less money. Credit card companies make money off the transaction and off interest on unpaid balances, so they want you buying as much as you can (and still stay within your limit). They’re guaranteed the percentage of what you paid and the more you ring up the larger your balance is likely to be.
Retailers are right there with them. Because even if they lose a bit of your payment, they want you buying more. Buy more and they’ll be happy.
Some ways to fight the well-oiled machine:
If you spend more with credit, make large cash withdrawls and do the old envelope budgeting method–one for food, one for clothes, etc.
If cash burns a hole in your pocket, then do the opposite–but try using debit instead of credit. Debit feels more like real money.
Make shopping lists before you go. Then you can be part of the well-oiled machine (though if you’re buying groceries on credit there might be a problem, so use debit that works as credit) and still spite the system.
Become a live-off-the-land-hermit. Sometimes it seems like the sanest option.
*Whoever they are, they officially lose 20 points for my not being able to remember who made it. The ad was so catchy that I missed the advertiser.
**And I’ll add the disclaimer that we mute the tv and read/write during commercials. But somebody looked up and was snickering.