Written by Ben Carter
Ashley, Carlton and Hilary Banks led a life enviable by most Americans born in the 1980’s. They lived in a big house that always had food, a butler and for the first several years of their life, a fly, diva of a mommy who disappeared (and was replaced) unexpectedly halfway through their adolescence. Plus, their coolest cousin got to spend the night practically all the time.
Even at the age of eight, I was always aware of the idea of money. I’m not sure I knew how much money could do what, but as a concept, it was clear the Banks Family had a lot of it and in the future, I’d want my family to have a lot of money too. This helped me come to the realization early on that as much as I adored the Banks siblings as a whole, I harbored hidden hateful feelings for Hilary.
Hilary was disrespectful towards the life she was blessed with. Everytime she would ask the question (that was really more of a statement), I would get so angry... “Daddy… I need three-hundred dollaaaaaarrsssss.” When her father would ask her what she needed the money for, she would give the pitiful answer, “I need a new hat...”
I knew then Hilary would never amount to anything more than the older sibling who never moved out or even bothered to take a class at the local community college. She’d also probably end up marrying Jazz.
Now much older, what I realize is that despite my distaste for Hilary Banks and her constant requests for money or new dresses, she did so smartly. She withdrew cash from a place that would not charge her interest or even ask to be paid back.
In my thinking about Hilary, I also realize many of us have our own “daddy” who hands us money when we absolutely need it. Their names aren’t Philip, but VISA, Mastercard, American Express and Discover. We tell “plastic daddy” that we need $300 when we want to buy another drink at the bar, buy some shoes that spoke to us on a casual stroll through the mall or attend one of the absurd and costly “birthday weekend” dinners women think it’s okay to plan because they are the center of the universe.
Unfortunately, there are too many of us who apparently call on “plastic daddy” far too often. The average American household carries $15,950 in credit card debt, while only half of American households have enough saved to pay off the entire balance of their credit card debt immediately.
Since we all don’t have a Philip Banks in our lives and sometimes must resort to credit cards to pay for things, it’s probably best to do so for emergencies and unexpected expenses like a fixing a car, paying an unexpected bill or for travel home when a family member passes away.
This is usually the best way to approach use of credit cards in the long-term... Unless of course you are a real life Hilary Banks, in which case I will step to the side when I see you in line at Nordstrom because I’m only there to apply for a second, part-time job to pay off my own credit card debt.
Who’s your “daddy”? Are you paid up on your credit debt, or carrying a large balance from month to month?