I came home from work into the house to the smell of Mexican food. As I rounded the corner coming up the stairs to the kitchen, I found three gangling creatures — my son Sam and two other Andrean soccer players sitting at my kitchen counter eating Chipotle.
“How’s the burritos, gentlemen?” I asked casually as I passed.
“Awesome” one of them replied, “Sam bought them for us with his Apple Pay.”
For those who don’t know what Apple Pay is, if you’ve ever seen someone in a retail store or fast food joint pay for something with their phone, that’s Apple Pay. It allows a credit or debit card to be embedded in a smart phone or even a smart watch for point-of-sale payments.
I immediately locked eyes with Sam, both of our faces flushed. “That’s interesting that Sam bought dinner with HIS Apple pay when Sam doesn’t have a credit card, bank account or a job,” I replied.
My wife, listening in to the exchange from the pantry, stepped out. “I asked him to buy the boys dinner; they helped with some errands. I said he could use the Apple pay,” she said. With the situation momentarily defused I moved onto my bedroom to put on some shorts and a t-shirt.
A couple days later, I was sitting on a sunny deck at a new brewery in New Buffalo drinking a nice hazy IPA and telling my Sam’s Apple Pay tale to a couple dads I hang out with.
“Oh, that’s nothing,” said one of them, whose oldest daughter had just graduated college and found a great job, “in our house we had to go through something I now refer to as the 'Decoupling.' It took me a couple of months, the world’s gotten much more complicated since you put your oldest off the dole. My credit card bills were out of control."
The other two dads leaned in, “what’s the Decoupling?” we both needed to know.
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“It’s these phone apps” was the reply. “These kids have been embedding the family credit card in everything from Uber to Spotify to Dunkin Donuts to Amazon on their phones. Once you let them do it once the card stays in there and they can attach it to other apps. These apps were hitting my credit card for small charges all the time. The charges were usually so small I didn’t pay attention to them or I assumed it was my spending until I really started looking into it.”
He was right, I often find myself sitting at the kitchen table going over the credit card statement. Sure, I’ll irritably ask how or why someone would spend $300 at a store like Marshalls, but I never press the issue on charges under $10.
“So finally,” he continued, “I had to dig deep, and once I got into it, I got obsessed. I went beyond the phone apps to the Xbox. I even realized every time my daughter went to see her boyfriend in the city it was costing me $25 in Skyway tolls and parking apps. I even Decoupled them from my IPass accounts. I figured out all those Uber and Lyft charges were adding up to about a car payment some months. It had to stop.”
“The last thing I found just a few weeks ago was charges coming from their Amazon Kindles. I Decoupled those now too. It’s feels so good, my credit card bills are half of what they used to be.”
The other dad and I were more than impressed.
“That’s incredible,” I said, “I want to start the Decoupling.”
“It’s the only way to right the ship,” he said, “but you have to have no mercy once you start, because they will eventually resist and try to argue. You gotta stay strong.”
Later that night I laid in bed inspired to start my own Decouplng. But as I formed my strategy, I couldn’t help but wonder how my credit card got into Sam’s Apple Pay in the first place. I think I’ll start my Decoupling process by solving that little mystery first.