Thursday, February 13, 2014


I am, for the first time in I think thirteen years, completely free of credit card debt. Reader: it all got a bit out of control there, scarily so, for a while. Here's what happened.

I first got a credit card when I was an art student living on Austudy. I was going overseas. I had money but was worried I didn't have enough, y'know In Case Of Emergencies, and so I applied for one. Travel being what it is, there were lots of things I didn't want to miss out on. And in those days I was paranoid about missing out on things and embarrassed to say I couldn't afford something my companions could. It was easier to put it on the card and think about later so I did; from memory I came back with the thing maxed out.

I couldn't afford to pay off the principal but I religiously made my monthly minimum payments. After a while a parameter in a bank spreadsheet kicked over, and the robots who run our lives realised I was one of those people who would keep paying the minimum forever while possibly never making headway against the principal, aka their bread and butter.

And so even though I was living on Austudy they offered me an increased credit limit. Being poor and dumb I took it. I needed the money, after all, and this looked like money even though it was really just debt. And so began a pattern that lasted years: they kept offering me more debt, and I kept taking it, kept paying the minimum.

Part of me kept looking the other way while all this happened. And this was all in the context of accumulating a HECS debt and other such things; part of me had had to look the other way even to go to uni, to not think about what it'd all really cost. It was like a scary bandaged wound or climate change: I didn't want to look at it because of what'd mean if I really knew what was going on.

Eventually I did. I owed the banks seventeen fucking thousand dollars.

Even knowing that didn't change things enough, because I still didn't like saying no, but slowly slowly I turned the fucking thing around and now that particular beast is slain. And I am now, which is delightful, in a position to stand on the street with others and cut the cards up the next time the link between the big four banks and Australia's coal export industry is publicly and collectively protested: those banks have nothing of mine any more and will get none again til they get their shit together. x


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