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Wishing the new was old

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By James Roberts

It's a phrase I use often. "I wish we had things like this when I was younger."

I said or thought those words recently while looking at the technology at students' fingertips at Campbellsville Independent and Taylor County schools.

And I was definitely thinking it when I began to delve into the new credit card rules a few weeks ago while preparing for a story.

Probably the single greatest mistake I've made in my 33 years on this earth occurred when I was about 20 or 21 years old. As I was picking up my textbooks at the Eastern Kentucky University bookstore, the clerk slipped a credit card application into my bag.

Later, back at my apartment, I pulled out the application, gave it a very quick once over and promptly applied.

My application was approved, and I had a nice, shiny little piece of plastic in my pocket to show for it. It was the first of many.

It would be nice knowing that I had money in my pocket at all times in case of an emergency, I thought at the time.

What I defined as an emergency was soon to become very, very suspect. An emergency could mean I was on the road and low on gas and cash. Or it could mean I was at Best Buy and found a dozen DVDs I wanted and they were on sale.

What I failed to realize is that, five or six years later, after I paid off those purchases, the DVDs cost me about $200 a piece.

At the time, I thought I was a responsible young adult. I lived on my own, hundreds of miles away from the protections of home. I cooked my own meals and cleaned my own apartment.

But I wasn't responsible at all. Those little cards and their ever-increasing balances was definitive proof of that.

Among other things, the Federal Reserve's new rules for credit card companies makes marketing cards to young, inexperienced folks much more difficult.

Credit card companies would no longer be permitted to issue a card to anyone younger than 21, unless they have a co-signer or have enough of an income to make payments.

I wish we had things like this when I was younger. If we did, I wouldn't have gotten that first credit card so soon. The first credit card, of course, led to the others, which, in turn, lead to near financial ruin.

Personally, I'd like to see it go further. I'd like to see laws preventing anyone from receiving a credit card unless they've had a full-time job for at least a year.

Maybe that sounds too stringent, but take it from me, there is nothing worse than getting your first paycheck and realizing half of it is already committed to credit card payments.