I used to be an innocent and carefree guy, growing up in an average household in Singapore in the late 90s and early 2000s.
I did quite decently for my studies, not too good but it was enough for me to go through the route which most got study people go to (Express stream – Poly – Local Uni).
I was a sociable guy, people liked me and I was always invited to parties and gatherings
Throughout the years when I was growing up and schooling, I met people from all the different backgrounds, the rich kids, the not so well to do ones, the guai lan kias and also the guai kias.
I was pretty sociable, so I was friends with all of them. Everywhere I went, people would acknowledge my presence and people all seemed to like me.
Life was pretty good and enjoyable as it was.
However, things soon started to change when I was approaching the third year of Poly.
I was around 18-19 then and was introduced to partying by some of the popular people in Secondary school. Week in and out, we would visit the clubs (Zirca/Rebel, Helipad, Zouk @ Jiak Kim) thrice a week, on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
We could go to the clubs and then wait around for the first train before heading to school for lessons, we had lots of energy then and our bodies were still young (if you ask me to do it now, I would die straight).
Due to the fact that we were going to clubs so often, our allowances and even part time work salary could not keep up with the expenses.
Entry fees at that time for an average club was around $20-$30 for normal nights and we could claim two drinks from the bar for that price.
Of course, two drinks were never enough for us and we would also spend extra on drinks either by buying from Holiday Inn or just from the clubs itself when we felt like ‘balling’.
Banks were promoting student credit cards at that time, it seemed perfect for me
So how did we get the money for all these privileges when we were at that age and couldn’t keep up with the spending?
Well, at that period of time, many banks would go to the tertiary institutions (Polys, Unis etc) to promote the student Credit Cards.
It was free to sign up and had no annual fees as long as we were still schooling and even after we ended our education journey, we could always call in to ask for the annual fee waivers and the best was there was a credit limit of $500, an amount which was considered big for an average student at that time.
What added more importance to a student like me was that it gave us free entry to some of the clubs before a certain time, which enticed a lot of students my age to sign up for it as most people at that age just started to party.
All you had to have to qualify for the student credit card was you just had to be studying in one of the institutions on the list and had to be at least 18 years of age.
I signed up for one of the cards, and it all went downhill from there
As fate would have it, I signed up for one of the student credit cards from one of the banks and it all went downhill from there.
I had told myself when I signed up for the student credit card that I would only use for free entry into the clubs I wanted to go and not spend on anything with it but as we continued partying every time, the $500 credit limit was too tempting for me not to spend.
I started by using the credit card to take taxi home whenever I was too high to wait for the first train and subsequently from there, because I had already spent on the credit card, I began to buy drinks with the card from the clubs.
It then became worst when I started to use it to pay for my dates with girls.
I would then try to earn back whatever I spent on the credit card to clear the bills at the end of the month and it became a never ending cycle.
I was spending ‘future’ money, and then working to get the money to clear the ‘future’ money which I spent using the credit card.
I soon lost control of myself, and found myself starting to owe more and more because I would only clear the minimum sum of the credit card, and the rest of the money owed accumulated interest and the amount eventually snowballed to something which was pretty much unthinkable for someone at that age.
It then became worst when I went to serve the nation, I was only taking a few hundred dollars each month from the Army and it was never enough for me to spend as I was posted to a stay out unit and had to pay for my daily expenses.
I eventually cleared all the debt from this card when I finished serving the nation and took up a few part time jobs, but because I had already developed a habit of spending ‘future’ money, it carried on during my years in University and even till date in my thirties, I am still caught in a never ending cycle of credit card debt.
Looking back, I wished that I had never signed up for the student credit card and had spent within my means. I desperately need to break this habit of spending ‘future’ money, but I am so caught into it and my materialistic needs that I don’t know when this will stop.