In 2015, Credit Karma went to Austin and invited people to talk to us about their experiences with money and credit. We talked to people with many different backgrounds. Some were Credit Karma members, others were not. Participants were told in advance their stories might be shared online. These stories helped us understand the financial struggles that many people face. We thought they might help others too.
These are real stories, told by real people in their own words.
They received a financial gift for sharing their stories, but we want to take this time to thank them again. Check out our My Money Story series on YouTube.
When Christine was 18 and a student at UC Berkeley, she ended up with boy trouble and credit card trouble all at once.
She applied for - and got - a student credit card with a $5,000 limit. She was in a relationship at the time, ended up spending a lot of money on her boyfriend, and maxed out her credit card.
"I was spending so much that the minimum payment was going up," she says. And while she didn't think it was free money, she also didn't feel like there was any hurry to pay it back.
Luckily, she caught herself before things spiraled further out of control. She broke up with her boyfriend and used part of her student loan to pay off her debt (along with some help from the Bank of Mom and Dad). "I actually used that moment to acknowledge that I'd been a complete idiot and tried to educate myself."
To learn about credit, Christine did a lot of online research and even borrowed Suze Orman (a personal finance expert) DVDs from the library. But Christine feels it's a problem that young people have to educate themselves on a topic that can have such serious life consequences. "I personally think there's not enough education. (Credit card providers) are entrusting you with incredible financial responsibility and not giving you the resources to use (the cards) responsibly."
Christine's now nearly 30 and feels that there are so many spending temptations for young people that it can be hard to remain fiscally responsible. "I remember when (going to the) movies used to cost $7 and now they cost $11 or $12. That's on top of eating out. That's on top of your Netflix account every month."
Being older comes with shifting financial priorities though; Christine is now focused on buying a house and new car and learning how to invest. "I want more security, more freedom, so I feel like I need to step up my game in terms of education." But while she's striving for improvement, she also wants to share her lessons with her friends or anyone who is struggling with finances - and she hopes that others can discuss money as openly as she can.
"(Talking about money) is a very sensitive subject...but I'm all for it. If there are ways for you to be more responsible for your money, why wouldn't I share that with you?"
Editorial Note: The opinions you read here come from our editorial team. While compensation may affect which companies we write about and products we review, our marketing partners don't review, approve or endorse our editorial content. Our content is accurate (to the best of our knowledge) when we initially post it, but we don't guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information provided. You can visit the company's website to get complete details about a product. See an error in an article? Use this form to report it to our editorial team. For questions about your Credit Karma account, please submit a help request to our support team.
Advertiser Disclosure: We think it's important for you to understand how we make money. It's pretty simple, actually. The offers for financial products you see on our platform come from companies who pay us. The money we make helps us give you access to free credit scores and reports and helps us create our other great tools and educational materials.
Compensation may factor into how and where products appear on our platform (and in what order). But since we generally make money when you find an offer you like and get, we try to show you offers we think are a good match for you. That's why we provide features like your Approval Odds and savings estimates.
Of course, the offers on our platform don't represent all financial products out there, but our goal is to show you as many great options as we can.