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I have a practice… I buy what I can pay for… today. Not at the end of the month. Not in six easy payments. Today. It’s not hard to do. I use my debit card for almost everything. I don’t even have a credit card. (I do keep money in savings for unexpected expenses.) I am happy and financially responsible.

And, all is well until I go to my favorite department store and select the items that I desire and that fit into my current budget. I make it to the register. At which point, the clerk asks if I’d like to pay for my purchase with their very own store card. I politely tell them that I don’t have their store card and don’t want one. And that opens Pandora’s box! Their most intriguing arguments include the fact that I will save a certain percentage on all my purchases… and… I can pay the balance immediately every time I buy something.

I have to admit. Their offers are tempting. They seem so concerned that I would pay full price when I could get their discount. They care about me and my finances. Don’t they? Not according to Bertha. Bertha says that those sweet, concerned clerks get bonuses based on the number of credit accounts they open. Hmmm…

She also says that, in truth, they are banking (quite literally) on the fact that in the not-so-distant future my eyes will be bigger than my bank account. Since I already have the card, it’s easy enough to buy today and let the balance ride and what a pony ride that becomes.

Here’s how they predict that ride will go.

It’s not as much fun to pay for something that I’ve already worn and maybe even gotten tired of. What is fun is to purchase something new. And since I can’t pay both of them off immediately, I’ll just let them both ride a bit longer. Rinse and repeat. Pretty soon the balance on my card represents things that I don’t even remember and while I do save a small percentage on my purchases, I’m paying many times that in interest. Bertha says stores are not in business to sell things but rather to lend money. I hate to say it but I think she’s right.

Instead of a pony ride, I’m on a bucking bronco.

Bertha says that the best way to avoid getting bucked off into horse poop is to avoid riding in the first place. I must say that I agree with her completely and that’s why I always take her shopping with me. And yes, we always pay cash.

How about you? Want Bertha to go shopping with you? Not a problem, she loves to shop. Just leave a comment below or send us message. Of course, you’ll be looking at lots of high-heels and spandex… but wouldn’t you anyway?

Jane