Guest post by Audrey
Though my husband and I have been careful with our use of credit cards and have not amassed debt, we have begun to realize that our financial decisions impact many more people than just ourselves, and that realization has helped us curb our credit-card spending more than any other budgeting lesson.
My family bought a rustic campground in New Hampshire in 2003. We spent countless hours updating and improving the entire facility, including its highway-front, country-style general store.
We met so many wonderful people in that store, chatting with them about their homes (some as far away as Europe or Asia), their spiritual journeys, their dreams and goals and desires. But it became increasingly difficult to smile and chat with customers who paid for their $1.50 cup of coffee with their credit card.
You see, for each and every purchase, my family had to pay a surcharge to use the credit card system. That charge could be as high as $1 per purchase, on top of the 4% fee based on the purchase price.
When we added in the cost of the coffee itself, the cup, the sugar and the creamer, our store was actually losing money for those cups of coffee. And candy bars were worse.
Eventually, my father decided that we would change tactics. When someone made an extremely small purchase and offered a credit card for payment, we simply offered to give the customer that item for free. Our family lost money either way, and we hoped it would open these customers’ eyes to the true costs of using credit.
What We Learned
Maybe those customers learned a lesson; maybe they didn’t. All I know is that I definitely did. My husband and I, though still using our credit card on occasion, try to keep these things in mind:
- Small businesses take a hard hit when we swipe a credit card.
- Small purchases (candy, coffee, soda) cannot compensate for the credit card companies’ fees.
- Credit hurts more than us, and it pleases the Lord when we strive to be aware of others’ needs.
Audrey is the proud wife of a handsome Marine and stay-at-home-mother of a beautiful 16-month-old girl (and she’s expecting again in November!). She teaches piano lessons occasionally and is recording her journey into the world of book publishing at www.trugars.com.