Credit cards make it easy for us to buy now and pay later. This mindset is pervasive and dominant in the United States, and it keeps many Americans financially imprisoned. I can still remember when there was no credit card, and I had to save for what I want.
Morpheus offers him the chance to learn the truth about the Matrix. Neo accepts by swallowing the red pill, and abruptly wakes up naked in a liquid-filled pod, his body connected by wires to a vast mechanical tower covered with identical pods. The connections are severed and he is rescued by Morpheus and taken aboard his hovercraft, the Nebuchadnezzar. Neo’s neglected physical body is restored, and Morpheus explains the situation.
Buy Now and Pay Later (Blue Pill)
Last night, I was looking around the Discover Card Account Center and found a neat little tool that shows my “Purchasing Power.” I plugged in some numbers, which you can see in the image below.
Basically, I can charge $5,000 to my Discover Card and pay back $185 a month for 36 months (at my current interest rate). That sounds great, until I do the math. At $185 a month, I’d end up paying $6,660 for my $5,000 item. In other words, the cost of instant gratification is $1,660. I think that’s steep.
Save Now and Buy Later (Red Pill)
Now let’s see what’d happen if I save $185 a month instead. Assuming a modest 5% interest rate, it would take about 25.5 months to save $5,000. Better yet, the monthly contributions only add up to $4,810, so I saved $190!
Sure, waiting two years is not as exciting as instant gratification, but I think saving $1,850 feels pretty darn good.
So, which one would you choose?
Pinyo Bhulipongsanon is the owner of Moolanomy Personal Finance and a Realtor® licensed in Virginia and Maryland. Over the past 20 years, Pinyo has enjoyed a diverse career as an investor, entrepreneur, business executive, educator, financial literacy author, and Realtor®.