Fast Forward: 1996

Oh Global Economy!  Where went this sage advice?

When I went off to college in 1996 (I took a bit of a gap after high school) I had a high school education.  My parents were (are still) middle class, productive and employed.  I got my first job at 16 and have been continually employed ever since.  My parents paid for tuition, I paid my living expenses.  And from my first arrival on campus, I had my first credit card.

It had a $600.00 limit.  And before you knew it, I was struggling to pay a $540 balance.  On campus in those days, banks used to set up tents.  They handed out tee shirts, water bottles, and doo hickies for filling out an application.  It was August in Arizona, and it was hot so I needed a water bottle.  Just like that.

There is no fault here, the issue is contextual.   Ever been to a store with a give away sweepstakes, and then you’re called and called for timeshare deals and you can’t get off the list?  Yeah, it was like that.  They kept giving out credit limits.  And by the time I graduated, that $600 dollar balance had grown into $3000.00 that I struggled to pay off.  A very bad habit.

I didn’t have a financial education, and I never got one at college.  Today I represent consumers in Court, and we have a term for what happened that hot summer in Arizona: relaxed lending standards.  This blog is not about blame, it is not about banks.   But it is about the Global Economic Crisis, the culture we live in, and debt.


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