Posted by: gdevi | October 4, 2011

Immaterial

In my continuing efforts to simplify my life, about a month ago, I canceled my credit card. I have only had one credit card all these years that I have lived in the US–that would be 21 years now — and I used to use it to buy books from amazon, book air tickets, groceries, gas, stuff for my daughter etc. But recently I had started to realize that I don’t need a credit card to live. I have always lived within my means and I really don’t like shopping at all. (I feel so sorry for my daughter–she once told me that all her friends go shopping with their mothers–it is a mother-daughter bonding thing they do–and could I please take her shopping? I told her, aw, honey, how about we watch a movie instead? I can’t stand shopping. I would rather have a root canal than go shopping. I will take you to a movie. How about that? Your children, they forgive you for all your shortcomings.)

Life without a credit card was a bit disorienting at first. In a way, it was like living back in India in the eighties, when we used actual money for all our needs. I realized that if I had to go through the Dunkin Donuts drive-thru then I would need to have cash with me. It felt funny suddenly to start doing all your transactions with actual money, not funny money. In a way it is beautiful. I told both K and D that I would only shop with twenty dollars at a time, no more. Actually, I found out that that was plenty for grocery for the week. (This meant less junk food for D.)  And twenty dollars for gas at a time. I have now lived an entire month without using a credit card, and I have to say that I feel cleansed.

Though I don’t like shopping for myself, I do like to get things for my daughter and my friends, particularly Nic. Everything looks good on them. Now it is so simple. These days I shop deliberately to get something my daughter needs. Or something for a friend. All the other times, all that eye candy blinking from the aisles, it is so easy to ignore them now. They look lifeless to me. My daughter looks at something and tells me, mama, can we get that? All I do is say truthfully, no, we can’t honey. I don’t have a credit card, and I don’t have enough cash with me. It is the truth. My daughter has learned to accept that now.

So far, I cannot really think of any drawbacks to not having a credit card.  One thing that always comes up when you think about credit cards is your credit history. I find that really annoying; we have no debts other than our mortgage, and these underwriters and such should not collude with banks to fleece people with high interest rates based on credit reports etc. It is really unfair to those of us who live within our means.

People look at you strangely when you don’t shop with a credit card. I am sure I must confuse them. In many respects, I must look like a person who uses credit cards. So they give me the once-over-look when they see me pay in cash. I have been saving all week, I told the lady at Dunkin Donuts this morning as I emptied out all my spare change: give me a large Cappucino with whole milk and two sugars.

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