Thursday, 16 April 2015

The shame of my zero bank balance

The shame of my zero bank balance

AFTER I first received my debit card, I thought to myself “Yes! No more carrying money around and I can pay for things so easily now!”

I was na├»ve and I was only delighted to finally be part of the ‘Big people’. I was never told by anyone that money was valuable and that money was actually a luxury to have.

So as time passed after receiving this card, I used it to buy myself the odd meal here and there, I would have my friends with me and they would be digging in their pockets to find cash for a meal as well, so I would just offer to pay for them, saving them the hassle of finding cash.

The transactions were quick and easy and we could all enjoy a meal together. This would happen often as I felt good for giving and I felt powerful with this card.

The ease of transactions became addictive; I would soon begin exploring online and would see “great deals delivered straight to your door”. All these deals were cheap and I could just use my card to pay. Deals ranging for $3.00 - $9.00, these prices barely felt like a dent to me, I hadn’t checked my bank balance for some time now but I didn’t need to, I knew I hadn’t made any big transactions so I must still have a lot of money left.

Further time went by until I got that dreaded notification: “Transaction Declined”. Confused and quite dumbfounded, I assumed it was the card machine as everyone first does. The thought of having no money started to sink in as I made my way to the nearest ATM, card in hand, looking down as if I was just humiliated by a crowd. That feeling will never leave me. I stood before the ATM shocked and overwhelmed by the sense of shame, looking at the zero bank balance as if I’ve lost my entire world. It was only then that I realised how my naivety and immaturity had just cost me thousands.

Why does this happen?

This hasn’t only happened to me, it happens to many young people because of the lack of financial teachings in the world for young people. I was never taught in school the dangers of micro-transactions or the burdens of having card.

I would see on television and bank adverts of people buying and people swiping for everything. Where do they show us how happy people are that have actually made the effort to save? Banks make it easier for us to just spend money, but why are we never given a compulsory option to save X% percentage of our money every time a deposit is made into our account?

We are bombarded with incentives to spend, not that it’s any one company’s fault; they are there to make money as well. My past has taught me that saving is more important and that spending isn’t a need but a luxury.

Why should people have to lose everything before they realise what they should actually do.