You may never have run your own business, so my situation could well be worse than yours will ever be. My business went under, and took with it my personal credit score and access to bank accounts. What it left me with, was only one option to pay bills. Queuing and more queuing in the post office.
You don’t realize how fantastic a direct debit facility is, until you can no longer have one. Try trudging to the post office, queuing in line, then realizing you’ve forgotten the letter with the payslip on. Then having to get home, find the thing, trudge back to the post office and queue AGAIN. Who knew a journey to the post office required the strategic thinking of an MBA master class. And no matter which post office you visit, they all close down counters as the number of people in the queue line increases.
I can’t stand waiting in line. There’s 2 years of my life I’m never getting back.
OK nobody likes bills. They arrive, you might whine about it; you might protest about it. And you still have to pay it. Here’s the deal though. You can call the company, hold on the phone and get through the annoying menu options, then pay with your card. Straight forward, simple, almost pain free!
But, lose the credit or debit card, surgically remove the direct debits and you’re left with hard cash. No ones come up with a way to feed dollar bills down a telephone line. And there’s no slot on your computer. You have to actually get off your behind, leave the house and go pay.
At first, when it all fell apart, no one would give me a bank account. Then I was allowed an account where I could pay in and withdraw cash. Just that. No cards, no automatic payments, standing orders and the rest. Literally a bucket to store money in!
And then like a scene from Rocky – I saw an advert for prepaid credit cards. Gospel choirs rolled in, in robes, hailing my name. The dark clouds melted and suns rays shone down on me and restored sanity to my life. Perhaps a slight exaggeration, but I felt I’d been allowed back in to the modern world.
Who knew a piece of plastic could be more inspiring than a Tony Robbins infomercial.
Now, in one visit to the post office I was able to stuff enough cash on the card to pay the bills AND have surplus over to be a real man and take my wife out for dinner. Ok, maybe Denny’s doesn’t count as dinner. But I did have a credit card in my back pocket.
I didn’t have to just window shop on line either. I could actually buy something. I could stay at home and like magic pay my bills by telephone or by internet. CHOICES. And it was impossible to burn through more than I had on the card, so the debt stayed locked down.
Personally I’ve never had to deal with identity theft, but if someone had hijacked my card number, they’d been browsing the holiday magazine instead of escaping to paradise.
What was really useful was the card company charged $5 a month for using the card. And at the end of 12 months, they update your credit record saying you successfully repaid a $60 loan.
That starts to turn a bad or non-existent credit score around. So if you’ve had bad debt or never borrowed in your life, then this is one way to get off rejected planet and mingle with the cool credit crowd.
You know, in life some moments are truly inspiring. Your first passionate kiss; holding your new baby in your arms when they’re a few seconds old AND getting a bank account where they let you have a visa or MasterCard card again.
I phoned my mom to share the emotion of my daughter being born. I phoned her again to share the elation of having a real bank account again.
And I still have a prepaid card. I use it for what we call treat days. Stack up the card with the amount of cash we want and can afford to use and then out we go for the fun of spending it.