Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Why Maria Bartiromo Doesn’t Have a Credit Card

As another indication of the way credit cards and debit cards have flipped, here is a TV segment from January in which CNBC anchor Maria Bartiromo explains to Ellen DeGeneres why she doesn’t have a credit card. Ellen asks the obvious question, “How do you do anything?” (The credit card discussion starts at 6:37.)

The money quote: “But if you’re gonna load up on debt on your credit card, I am just so not of that mindset.”

This revelation made headlines at the time (though I somehow missed it until today). I have seen two main reactions to the story. Some people are surprised at the thought of a Wall Street honcho who doesn’t carry a credit card — isn’t a credit card supposed to be a sign of success? Others gripe that you have to be rich to get by without a credit card. There is an element of aspiration in this second point of view: I may have a credit card now, it says, but someday I could be successful enough to ditch it.

I think there is a connection between success and the lack of a credit card, but I focus more on the reverse connection. Success comes, in part, from simplifying life by doing things such as not carrying a credit card. To anyone who is hoping to become successful enough to get out of debt, I would suggest trying to find a way to reverse that: get out of debt so that you can become successful.