Originally created 12/19/06

Teens rack up credit card debt

Have you ever found yourself staring at a pricey item, internally debating whether to buy it? You know you don't have the money, but you want it so badly that you just might take the risk of putting yourself into debt to buy it.

In high school, such a desire is not uncommon - and, admittedly, it's easy for our desires to be satiated.

In the event that we lack the money, it's easy to ask our parents to get us a new pair of Wallabies or a sleek new gaming console for Christmas or our birthday.

But parents aren't there all the time. To fill that gap, a convenient item pops out of the blue. It's a little smaller than the average note card. It possesses an uncanny ability to produce money out of thin air and magically buy us almost everything the world has to offer. It's called a credit card, and lots of teens want one.

This isn't a new fad. Growing numbers of young people are buying into the ruse that credit cards are an easy way to get what they want. You can buy now and pay later; see an item one minute, own it the next, and not have to worry about saving for it or whether you have enough money in the bank to afford it.

Though credit cards do produce short-term results, they certainly don't come without price tags.

According to Time magazine, the average credit card debt of Americans is $7,200. That might sound like a slight amount, but don't forget about college loans or car loans or even home loans that the young incur.

We're headed down a slippery slope. Considering MSN Money says the average college student graduate with more than $20,000 in college loan debt, add that to credit card debt and you've got quite a hefty bill to pay off.

We have to change our way of thinking. I've known several people over the years who spent more than they could afford.

Everything bought with a credit card ultimately becomes more expensive than it was originally because of the interest on payments. Sure you can get an item now with a credit card, but can you afford it later?

With high rates of repayment, in the end it's better to just save up and buy the item with your own money so it's no hassle to come up with even more just to pay it off.

As a soon-to-be college student, I can already feel the pinch of my money and the pull to buy everything I want. In order to stay away from substantial debt, it's important to stay away from the credit cards, regardless of how tempting they might be. Though it might be a bit embarrassing to be a penny-pincher, it certainly pays off in the end.

Timothy Van Vliet, 18, is a senior at Augusta Christian School.


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