A Straight Talk on Debt

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Just Say No!

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Credit cards are everywhere! They're offered by practically every store, airline, and bank. 

These businesses want you to apply and be approved for their credit cards because they make money off of your mistakes and misfortunes. 

Yes, the offers seem unbelievable and they want you to believe it's a good product. 

Just Say NoEven though they seem like a good idea, I'm asking you to say no to credit cards.

Here is an example of credit card usage gone badly: I used my credit card to buy a $900 mattress that I couldn't afford.

I've regretted the purchase to this day because even though the mattress is amazing, I made payments on it for over a year. 

I should have just saved the money, which would have taken a few months and paid for the mattress with cash.  But, instead, I wasted more money and time because I was impatient, young, and ignorant about credit cards. 

Due to my purchase, the credit card company made money off of me from interest, late fees, and any other fee they may have had.

The first time I applied for a credit card was on my college campus. During a job fair, credit card companies were set up and ready to pounce on poor college students. 

I, being young and gullible, applied for the card because if I applied I would receive a free blanket.  

A few weeks later, I found out I was approved for the card and immediately began to think of all the things I could now buy with my, "free money."  I soon learned that credit cards are not free money and they cost you more in the long run. I now use the 'free' blanket as a reminder to never ever apply for another credit card.

Since then I have learned my lesson and paid off all of my credit cards and never used them again.  I feel that they are terrible, especially for college students and those on a limited income. 

I know it's hard to avoid and ignore credit cards, but you're stronger than you think. 

When that pre-approved letter comes in the mail, don't even open it-- shred it immediately. And, when you're at a job fair and see the credit card table, just walk past and apply for a job instead. 

Whenever you have the opportunity, just say no to credit cards.

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Mary Stolarik

Mary is a contributing writer for the A Straight Talk on Debt blog. She is a recent college graduate, with an English Writing degree from the University of Pittsburgh - Greensburg, and she's in debt. Mary shares her experiences with job searching, managing her finances on a part-time job, and ways to save money along the way. Compensated CareOne Blogger. Read more posts by Mary under the Just Graduated & Starting Out blog.

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  • Credit cards are not bad if you use them like a debit card.  I use mine for the convienience factor and always pay off at the end of the month.  Plus, I get a cash back check at the end of the year.  I agree though, they can lead to problems if you don't have discipline.

  • I totally agree with the Mary.I currently owe 45K in debts and I only could afford to pay the interest which comes to around 1000$.I don't know wat else I can do.

  • We offer several Debt Relief Solutions to help you break the credit card cycle and help you become debt free! To learn more click above to start a free debt analysis or send me a private message.

  • I can relate.  I too was a foolish college undergrad signing up for a credit card at age 19.  Its difficult to explain, but even though you are cognizant of the sky-high interest rates your still tempted to spend anyway.  I chock it up now to credit cards being an enabler of my poor habits.

    Long story short, paid off the debt and am a little wiser.  Although, it might seem like a terrible thing to say...I think its a valuable lesson everyone should learn the hard way.  You wont avoid debt until you've been burned by it at least once.

  • Why not have an article like this written by a person who has lived out in the world for a little while?  I am happy for Mary, but seriously, how about someone who's in their 30s or 40s and gotten out of 60k in debt on a very limited budget (like I did, and so many others have done).  I too was in debt in college, but it was about $3500, not really anything to write about honestly....

  • I have to agree with dmr37.  Credit cards are not inherently evil, and I tire of reading about how bad they are.  I have had credit cards since I was 18 or 19, signing up for my first one on a college campus.  Used responsibly, they can be very useful.

  • One thing we all need to realize is this: When we use credit cards, we are increasing the cost of goods and services. As a consumer we perhaps get 1% back but a business that accepts the credit cads pays anywhere from 2.8% to 5.5% fee to the bank. The vendors have to accept credit cards because otherwise they lose customers. The only way to break the stranglehold of these banks and make our kids and youngsters debt free is to not use credit cards. When there are enough of those who do not use credit cards, the vendors will have no incentive to accept credit cards.

  • I am slowly but surely swearing them off completely as well. Even though I am a long term credit card user who ALWAYS pays off the balance every month, they encourage you to spend just that LITTLE more than you actually make every month. I want to be in a situation where I never spend more than I make that month.

  • It's like the old advertisement - "Guns don't kill people, people do."  Credit cards are the same.  "Credit cards don't cause debt, people do."  My entire life, I've had 3 or 4 credit cards and pay them off monthly.  It's NOT easy - it's being an adult and sticking to a budget.  My sister and her kids charged over $150,000 on cards taken out in my mothers name.  My parents lost everything and my sister declared bankruptcy to get out of paying them back.  To blame the credit card companies for one's own lack of character is ridiculous.  Whining about temptation is for babies - there will always be something else out there to draw in the morally bankrupt.  And ever more blame and excuses.

  • Good little essay. Credit Cards are the face of evil. They are intended to put you in a life of servitude to the rich. Avoid them like the real poison they are. Remember freedom is not having to do anything for anyone. Its very hard to keep it, requires eternal vigilance.

  • Same path here: 56K+ in debt by graduation, 12 tapped cards + personal loans. Entire condo filled with new stuff I didn't own. Creditors calling at my new job. I decided to sell a new dining room set I never used, and it escalated into a rout that ended the weekend with my condo emptied, subleased, and me living happily in my car (and later my office). 16 months later I was debt free, 6 years later I paid cash for a new house. Im married now, and Dr. She made us get a credit card that the bank set at 12K, and I insisted it be 2K (I won). A card is good for holding rental cars and hotel rooms, and for shopping online. But I don't do anything unless I can immediately pay it off (treat like a debit card, like another commenter said). Happiness is debt free and a large bank account. A large bank account is better than a uselessly large house. Tips: if in debt, pay off the small things first, and work up...even if you have to miss a payment elsewhere. I dinged the daylights out of my credit getting debt free, so what. Its now a blank sheet of paper and they throw offers at me on an almost daily basis, in vain. Become your own source. Live well below your means (a tiny, tiny place, in a great neighborhood), and fix everything that breaks yourself that you can.

  • One really bad thing about credit cards is that they are open ended on the terms. They can raise the interest and minimum payment at any time for any reason. So, you may rack up some debt, and be careful to keep it manageable, then the credit cards raise your interest rate from, say, 12% to 30%, and you're now in a hole you can't dig out of. Sure, they have to give you some advance notice now, thanks to recent government regulations, but it's probably not enough notice to pay off your debt.

    If you really need something on credit, stick to a loan with fixed terms, and limit credit cards to what you can pay off every month.

  • Conceptually, the idea is spot-on, but in reality, it's not completely wise to get rid of all CCs - for both security and credit reasons.

    Most people who forgo CCs, use Debit cards instead.  Debit cards permit full access to all cash located in one's Checking Account (and Savings account if it's used as a Reserve Line or the PIN is known for the Debit card); in addition, most banks do NOT offer the same protections ($50 limit) should the Debit card be used maliciously.

    In addition, it's good to make some interest payments from rolling over CC "debt" each month - banks like it and it reflects well on your credit.  For instance, we have one CC only, with a $2000 limit and we rollover $200 each month.  All of our monthly expenses (groceries, dates, etc) are placed on the CC (for security and credit reasons), then we pay it all off at the end of the month, however we always leave a 10% balance on the CC ($200) so when it's reported each month to the credit bureaus, it shows a $200 balance.  If you speak with anyone who works in the credit-related industry (mortgages, small business loans, etc) they'll validate this is a good and wise move.

    Conceptually, avoiding debt is always wise, but it's not always good.  Some debt (even $200) is good for your longterm credit health and by using a CC instead of a Debit card you drastically reduce the longterm costs associated with identity theft.  It's nice to see that you have $2000 in your Checking Account and living only off of "cash", but the moment your Account gets dried out because you used your Debit card at the wrong place, you'll wish you had that $50 liability offered by CCs.  Think about it.

  • Hi everyone and wow, thanks for all of the comments! I am so sorry I have been MIA on my post. Will, totally know what you mean, it is too easy to get into trouble, but you seem to have the right attitude and know what you need to do from now on, good luck! Alex, sure, I admit that as far as life experience goes, I am still getting there, but this blog is a reflection of my experiences for now. CareOne does feature many different bloggers from all walks of life, I would check out My Journey Out of Debt where the customers all blog. DQ, I know what you are saying, and really it comes down to making good choices, for many of us, that does not happen right out of the gate and we have to learn that discipline. Thanks for commenting 

  • Just say no!  When they changed my rates and terms I said no.  No I'm not going to pay you.  Filed bankruptcy and am glad I did it. I know that this would not work for everyone but it works fine for many.  Banks are the biggest deadbeats of all and we should beat them anytime we can.

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