"Will that be Cash or Credit?"
By Ray Randall
From Bangkok to Edmonton, credit card statements stuff mail and
email boxes with payment deadlines. Every bill reminds the giver that gifts
given freely do not come free. Giving and buying often exceed generosity and
need as a brittle piece of plastic becomes an avaricious spoiler of hopes and
During this week, two families emailed me about credit card
debt. One family lugs $12,000, and $50,000 shackles the other. Each family wants
relief; however, debt accumulation comes easily while debt relief sucker punches
emotions and wallets.
Consumer debt burdens the workers of all economies. Highways jam
with the doldrums, "I owe...I owe...It's off to work I go". . Truly, as an
ancient proverb reminds us, "The debtor is servant to the lender".
Nearly every government graphs consumer debt. The U.S. Federal
Reserve's January report set U.S. consumer debt at 2 trillion dollars; the
highest level in U.S. history. Canadians report an all time low savings rate
(when debt goes up, savings goes down). Thailand consumers pushed debt levels up
25% last year. United Kingdom families might be forced to reduce their spending
or sell their homes if interest rates ratchet up just 1%.
Debt management resources can guide consumers to the high
ground of debt relief as many credit management companies discover the need
for debtor assistance and education. However, consider these steps before
doling out more money to a credit assistance agency.
1. Manage your feelings. Take some time journaling your
emotions about money by asking yourself where you learned personal
definitions for fear and greed. Have some fun taking the innovative surveys
found at Emode.com.
2. Push-off the weights of procrastination. Take action; do it
now. This work requires sweat and concentration, but the rewards assure you of
freedom and achievement.
3. If you learned to spend, you can master saving (ultimately,
it's all about saving). However, before spending more money on reducing your
debt and increasing your savings, educate yourself. Go to Myvesta.org, a
non-profit consumer financial education organization. You will find "how to"
books, such as "How to Eliminate Your Debt Like a Pro" along with many other
self-help resources. Don't let someone else do for you what you can do for
yourself. Working through your debt as a fascinating experience allows you to
own your choices by changing your viewpoint.
"Creditors have better memories than debtors." - Benjamin
4. Myvesta may not suit all your needs, therefore add the
Alexa.com toolbar to research other similar sites.
5. If married, discuss credit card management with your spouse.
Two issues undermine romance: money and...well, you know the other one.
6. Don't take a consolidation loan whether personal or home
equity unless you find this the very last alternative. If you accept a loan,
"shop...shop...shop 'till you drop" the interest rate.
7. If behind on payments, call credit card companies
NOW...today... this minute. Find the right person for you to discuss your
circumstance. If greeted with putdowns and parental tones, end the conversation,
wait awhile and try another person. When you must, request a supervisor. Be
gracious, professional and persistent with a plan of action.
Most Americans carry 5 or more credit cards around. Take four of
them and bury them in the backyard. Keep one for emergencies. Diligent efforts
now will guide you toward financial freedoms in the future. Best wishes; if you
act on this or similar recommendations, you will stand in a small crowd. Best
wishes; if you act on this or similar recommendations, you will stand tall in a