My one year anniversary of getting laid off is this Monday! It was terrifying. I came home on Veteran's Day and ate lunch with my friends who had the day off work and I thought I was going to throw up the entire time. I was very lucky to get 12 weeks of severance in addition to unemployment. I made it my goal to have a new job before I received my last severance check. I almost made it -- I got a month-long temporary position that helped me get through February and some of March. I went into my savings for the first time in March, and then got a contract position that started in April. It was miserable, made worse by the fact I was unemployed during the holidays and stuck inside my apt in the middle of winter. I kept my purchases to the essentials. I also kept myself on a schedule: I needed to be awake before 8am and on my computer with a cup of coffee. I knew if I let go of that schedule, I'd lose all normalcy. Getting exercise is definitely important (the outdoors thing is hard when it's 15 degrees out) and keeping regular meals is also key. I think I only wore real pants on the weekends, though. Happy to say I started a new full-time position 2 weeks ago so I now have stability after a very uneasy and stressful year.
These guys are 31? I guess we have become a nation of man-children. You dont have a credit card in your 30's and your surprised that you have trouble in the normal world of responsible commerce? Of course they need a legit source of credit to hand you a 25k machine to do with what u wish. A debit card in no way provides that. I guess I'm just always shocked that people seem to be in an ever longer adolescence these days and are always so shocked at real world intrusions or declare they were conned by a company when they don't have the basic tools to complete the transaction or read the contract they sign.
Hmm. Every single thing you describe, from having to have a credit card, to needing the card to match the drivers’ license, to needing to have a valid drivers’ license, to needing to return the car by a certain time, is 100. Percent. Standard. Operating. Procedure. I know other people have already said this, but honestly. Dude. DUDE. This is pathetically narcissistic to refer to this experience as being ‘conned’, and it makes me sad that that’s the takeaway, and makes me sad that The Billfold would print this as that being the takeaway, and makes me hope it’s linkbait for irate comments like mine, and makes me hope everyone is not as inclined as you are to whingingly blame others for their own mistakes, and makes me hope you do other stupid shit like stealing from Chipotle like a 10-year-old, so that you can get called on it, and maybe someday realize you’re being a jackass. Hmm. Now I’m oddly in favor of this post, because writing this comment was cathartic. Thanks Billfold!
I fully agree with the commenters who say this is not a case of being conned, but instead, a textbook example of poor planning. But what really gets me is this line: "I am aware that credit cards are a good tool for building credit, but they have always seemed like a dangerous, unnecessary thing to have around." Really? I believe the author has it completely turned around: DEBIT cards are the dangerous, unnecessary thing. If your debit card is stolen, the money comes straight out of your bank account and it is GONE. Maybe your bank can get it back for you, but you're broke in the meantime. Credit cards have insurance, you can stop charges, and the bank usually pays those fraudulent charges. I've had my credit card numbers stolen twice, and each time my bank was able to stop it immediately with barely a ripple effect on me beyond waiting for the new card. If nothing else, here's a post from the well-regarded blog "Naked Capitalism" that converted me to skepticism of debit cards (no, I don't have any connection to this site): http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2009/09/the-debit-card-mystery.html The danger is the credit card owner: If you're well educated on how to obtain and use your credit card wisely, then you can build up credit, minimize your debt (find a bank or credit card company with reasonable practices and no/few fees), and avoid nightmare situations like this. And if you don't trust yourself, then as a previous commenter mentioned, just get a beginner's credit card with $500 credit line for emergencies.
Sounds like you and your friends don't know how to plan a trip. If you were 22, I'd just roll my eyes. At 31, this is just sad and pathetic. And stealing Sprite from Chipotle? Kind of glad you bros got hosed on the car rental.
Logan, I'm not sure it makes sense to see the debt as years of your life. As this Marxist understands it, Marx was saying that society came into being to moderate how human beings make stuff from nature. Over time we went from all being on our own, eating plants and living in trees and caves to a social structure where some people do the work, and some people reap the reward that is capital (ie money, property, power) and the "means of production/the things that make capital" (banks/factories/schools). The people who reap the reward now own most of the capital and means of production and that means other people have to give them labor to get access to the many things they own, like housing and food. Also the rich people have so much capital that over time that excess also turns into some good things like opera houses and libraries, charities and restaurants, things humanity couldn't have enough resources to create as tree dwellers. But the issue is we don't all benefit equally. So it's not your time/life per se you owe, it's your work, your effort, your labor that you put towards helping build Citibank or American Express, and anything that comes out of it. Which brings me to you/the problem with America. In the US we really believe that we all deserve nice things and we're all equals, even when reality would argue that we really aren't. For instance people who are poor describe themselves as "lower middle class" and rich people say they're "upper middle class". And that's not actually true! So you see people who are told they deserve the nice things the rich people have, and that they're really no different from those rich people who are after all, simply "upper middle class" and no mention is made of how little you can really and truly afford that. Everything is upsold. How many shirts do you really need? vs How many shirts do you feel like you need to keep up? Would you and your friends have had as much fun drinking on someone's couch? vs Did you and your friends feel like you needed/deserve to have happy hour with $12 cocktails in a nice place wearing a shirt you just got to look new in? And you know what? Marx actually wanted us all to have nice things. He said, over time all us poor slobs at the bottom of the heap would look up at the fancy jet peoplem and rise up and make sure everyone got a fair piece of the pie, and then we'd all be middle class, which means sadly no jets for anyone (this is the classic issue everyone has with communism), but also happily, no little kids starving in cold shacks working 18 hour days. But Marx HAD no idea that someone would invent credit cards. Which created the illusion that we were all middle class and middle class meant living like we saw on TV where "middle class" people had mansions or huge NY apartments. So it's not like you should beat yourself up for falling into a perception trap like that. A lot of people were fooled. Anytime one of your friends went to dinner with you at a fancy restaurant and they also made what you make per year, you were each confirming each other's perception that what you were paying for was what people like you pay for things. Your debt is a manifestation of a shared delusion we all had for a while in this country. One of the thing I think is so interesting to me about your perception of "worth" and value is "how good a time did we have"- and some of that is actually about things, but also it's a lot about people. You love people, you want to hang out with people, so you use money you don't have to make that happen. And the good thing about that is if you can shift your value system you can probably become the best picnic in the park host and free babysitter, and letter writer and volunteer and I suspect you'd ultimately be exactly the same or more happy, with just as many people who really appreciate you for you. Like you offered to buy Greg a drink at the end of this interview, but what if you said, "Thanks dude, I owe you cat sitting"?