In this article, we’ll break down “credit card scripts,” what they are, why people use them, and how they can be dangerous.
The reality of talking about credit card debt can be difficult. It’s one of the biggest credit card mistakes to avoid. We don’t want to always be seen as someone with a lot of debt or irresponsible.
That’s why what’s often said isn’t always what’s meant when it comes to credit card debt.
Credit card scripts decoded
|Credit card invisible script||What does that really mean?|
|“It’s not that bad. Everyone has credit card debt. At least I don’t have as much debt as Michelle.”||People can compare themselves to others. Interestingly, the worse off we are, the more we look to others to reassure us that we really aren’t that bad. It doesn’t change our situation, but we feel better about ourselves.|
|“I probably shouldn’t be buying this, but $100 is just a drop in the bucket compared to what I owe. Good. . “.||When the problem is big enough, we rationalize any single change as “not enough” (when in fact, real change happens through small, consistent steps). There are many similarities here between the decision making of those with serious debt and those who are overweight.|
|“Paying interest is like any other fee.”||This is “normalization,” or the idea that paying interest on your debt isn’t really that bad. I have never met a single person who says this and understands the math of 14 percent interest.|
|“These credit card companies are just trying to trap you.”||This is handing over responsibility for personal decisions. It is very common among people who are surrounded by friends and family who are also in debt. Yes, credit card companies want you to pay a lot of fees, but it’s also your responsibility to make the decisions that got you into debt in the first place. Until you take responsibility, credit card companies will be a convenient enemy.|
|“I don’t even know how much I owe.”||Note the transition to a more hopeless scenario. I estimate that more than 75 percent of people in debt don’t know how much debt they really have. The truth would be too painful, so they ignore it. But there is power in accepting the problem and making a plan.|
|“I’m just trying to do my best.”||The most hopeless of all. This person is effectively saying: “I have no control over my finances” and “Life happens to me” rather than accepting its own will. Once someone says this, it is very difficult for them to ever change.|
Damn, that was depressing. But all these examples are important to show you how insidious and powerful these credit card scripts are. It’s important to find all your debt and take control of your finances.
Credit card scenarios. why do people use them?
These credit card scenarios translate into very unique behavior. That’s why it’s so important to follow credit card rules or they can quickly turn into something bad. People “know” they’re not managing their money right, but they keep doing what they’ve been doing for years. To an outside observer, this may seem puzzling. “You are in debt. Why would you spend $800 on a trip that weekend?”
But people are not purely rational. In fact, these invisible money scenarios explain why so many people in debt avoid opening their mail. You can say: PAY. It’s not that hard.” But if your invisible money scripts have been honed and sharpened over twenty years of stories you’ve told (“bills = bad”), it can be hard to change.
What are some stories you’ve told yourself about debt?