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When you are "overcoming middle-age" you are entitled to rest on your laurels, eat them or even redecorate them. The point is when we reach "a certain age" we have earned the right to "kick back" a little and we should remember to do that for ourselves.

What were all those things which seemed important, significant or just plan inevitable when we were younger? Chests, confusion, competition, calendars and so forth. So, they may still be lurking around but we probably don't EVER NEED them now actually.

Visitors to the CARYL page are invited to "reflect, relax, laugh and give ourselves some applause!" Each essay at this location will hopefully offer that "thoughtful perspective" we have now earned and present us with an opportunity to laugh a bit.

It you or any neat women you know are interested in guest authoring an essay for this page, please send EVE an E-mail. If there is a particular topic you'd like to find here, let EVE know. Sit back, put your feet up and find a subject you'd like to "mull over" as you're "overcoming middle-age."

It’s Not Credit Cards

Do we live in a plastic society? There may be no greater proof of that than the credit card. A relatively small piece of plastic wields a great deal of power. It can mean luxurious living as well as hard scrabble debt. It’s hard to recall a time when all our monetary activities were handled with paper, including checks. Some “women of a certain age” can actually remember a time when certain department stores used pneumatic tubes for handling transactions. If change was required, the receipt, along with the paper money, was placed in a cylinder and quickly disappeared. When it returned it contained the currency due. Believe it or not, that method wasn’t replaced with cash registers until the late 1950’s. We found more historical references to this subject at:

“The first credit card was issued in 1951. Credit was first used in Assyria, Babylon and Egypt 3000 years ago. The bill of exchange - the forerunner of banknotes - was established in the 14th century. Debts were settled by one-third cash and two-thirds bill of exchange. Paper money followed only in the 17th century. The first advertisement for credit was placed in 1730 by Christopher Thornton, who offered furniture that could be paid off weekly. From the 18th century until the early part of the 20th, tallymen sold clothes in return for small weekly payments. They were called "tallymen" because they kept a record or tally of what people had bought on a wooden stick. One side of the stick was marked with notches to represent the amount of debt and the other side was a record of payments. In the 1920s, a shopper's plate - a "buy now, pay later" system - was introduced in the USA. It could only be used in the shops which issued it.

In 1950, Diners Club and American Express launched their charge cards in the USA, the first "plastic money". In 1951, Diners Club issued the first credit card to 200 customers who could use it at 27 restaurants in New York. But it was only until the establishment of standards for the magnetic strip in 1970 that the credit card became part of the information age. The word credit comes from Latin, meaning "trust". Cheques came into use in 1875. The first use of magnetic stripes on cards was in the early 1960’s, when the London Transit Authority installed a magnetic stripe system. San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit installed a paper based ticket the same size as the credit cards in the late 1960's.”

Now we have Debit Cards, Gold Cards, Reward Cards, Prepaid/Gift Cards, Low Rate Cards, Platinum Cards, Business Cards, Student Credit Cards of specialized pieces of plastic purporting to make our lives easier and better. Sometimes they do and on other occasions they hold us hostage when the time comes to “pay the piper.” There are secured credit cards, fixed APR cards, no credit approval required cards and credits which are ostensibly for the purpose of consolidating all your other debts. The operative words are credit and debt, regardless of any other designation.

Whether you rely on Mirriam-Webster or Britannic, the definition is quite clear for both:

CREDIT: time given for payment for goods or services sold on trust; transaction between two parties in which one (the creditor or lender) supplies money, goods, services, or securities in return for a promised future payment by the other (the debtor or borrower). ...

DEBT: something owed, obligation

Credit cards can be so seductive because they emphasize the lending as opposed to the owing. Once upon a time, in the days before plastic money, we were required to say “charge it” and think, at least momentarily, about the implications. Now, we’re usually asked, “Which credit card will you be using?” or “Is it credit or debit?” Either way, the obligation seems less onerous and it’s much easier to allow the “obligation” to fade-until the bill arrives, which it invariably will. The number of people who live their lives with credit cards maxed out all the time is startling.

At we found the following, “did you know” information

What's the average credit card balance?
The average balance per household, with at least one credit card, is $8,562 as of Sept 30, 2001.

How many different credit cards are in the United States?
There are five major brands: VISA, MasterCard, Discover, American Express, and Diners Club. Among these five payment networks there are upwards of 30,000 different programs.

What is the total number of U.S. consumers with credit cards?
Approximately 185 million

What is the average number of credit cards per cardholder?
There are currently 281 million people in the USA. Approximately 185 million Americans use credit cards. There are about 500 million consumer bank credit cards (VISA, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express) and about 700 million retail credit cards and other credit cards. With a total of 1.2 billion credit cards the average per cardholder would be 6.5 cards.

What is the average yearly balance on a credit card?
The average balance per account is currently about $2500.

How many credit card holders declared bankruptcy last year?
1.3 million cardholders

How much credit card interest does the average household pay each year?
$1000.00 which is $83.33 per month

What is the average US household amount owed to credit card companies?
That depends on how you calculate it. Considering there are 110 million U.S. households, the average debt per household would be about $6000. If you look at only households with at least one credit card, the average debt per household is about $8000.

In the past 20 years, what has been the most dramatic change in the marketing of credit cards?
Information technology. Twenty years ago most banks offered one or two products to all customers. Today, most issuers match customers with a wide range of card products. Some issuers are so sophisticated they can almost offer a completely personalized credit card.

One of the regularly frustrating costs reflected on credit cards is for gasoline….more so with the advent of the SUV. That’s an American perspective since drivers abroad have been paying $3 and up for the same petrol for years. Since levity is a hallmark here at NEAT WOMEN INC, we offer the following cost comparison analysis for your consideration:

So, you think a gallon of gasoline is expensive, huh??

Diet Snapple 16oz for $1.29 = $10.32 per gallon

Lipton Ice Tea 16oz for $1.19 = $ 9.52 per gallon

Gatorade 20oz for $1.59 = $ 10.17 per gallon

Ocean Spray 16oz for $1.25 = $ 10.00 per gallon

Pint of milk 16oz for $1.59 = $12.72 per gallon

STP Brake Fluid 12oz for $3.15 = $ 33.60 per gallon

Vick's Nyquil 6oz for $8.35 = $ 178.13 per gallon

Pepto Bismol 4oz for $3.85 = $123.20 per gallon

Whiteout 7oz for $1.39 = $25.42 per gallon

Scope 1.5oz for $0.99 = $ 84.48 per gallon

And here is the REAL KICKER......

Evian water 9oz for $1.49 = $ 21.19 per gallon.....$21.19

FOR WATER!! So next time you're at the pump, be glad your car doesn't run on Nyquil, Scope, or Whiteout!!!

Finally, if you feel swamped by a sea of debt your friendly little credit cards have helped to create, there are numerous online resources addressing that problem. We don’t endorse any particular site but this one looked like a place to start: The other alternative is to take out a good strong pair of scissors-plastic can cut into small pieces!

They are chic, heavenly tasting and affordable designer chocolates. Send some to a friend-after ordering some for yourself!
“As with most fine things, chocolate has its season. There is a simple memory aid that you can use to determine whether it is the correct time to order chocolate dishes: Any month whose name contains the letter a, e, or u is the proper time for chocolate.”
~~Sandra Boynton, Chocolate: The Consuming Passion (1982)

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