“A learned blockhead is a greater blockhead than an ignorant one.”
If you haven’t seen the documentary “Maxed Out”, I highly recommend that you take the time to watch it. It is about credit, credit card companies, and how American’s love their plastic credit cards. It is also about how the credit card companies make their money, how universities and colleges around the United States are selling out their students, and how you and I are becoming deeper in debt.
As you know, I always suggest one should take everything with a grain of salt when watching documentaries and mockumentaries, but there is always a lesson to be learned in everything whether you agree with it or not. You have to have an open mind to actually see what is front of you. You have common sense, use it!
One could argue that when you have credit you should be responsible with it and spend only what you can afford. Yet, isn’t it easy to pull out that credit card to pay for a tank of gas? How about a stop at the grocery store for a gallon of milk, some bread, and something for dinner? Is your schedule too busy? Are you too tired to cook? Let’s go out to dinner. Hmmm, a little short in the checking account? Just put it on your credit card. Everything will be ok…go ahead charge it…pay it off next month.
Do you want to really take control of your spending? Switch to a debit card (money taken straight out of your checking account) and/or cash basis. Is your car low on fuel? Make sure you have enough money in your checking account or cash in your wallet. All of the sudden, you become vividly aware of how much it really costs to fill up your car. Want to stop at a fast food restaurant (which is usually unhealthy anyway), make sure you have cash in hand (or your pocketbook). When you spend actually cash, you quickly become aware of your expenses.
Do you remember the days when you couldn’t use your credit card at McDonald’s or buy groceries with it at Safeway?
Some expenses you can’t get around. Your children need shoes, you need to buy food, you need that latest Wii game. Wait. Do you really need to purchase the latest Wii game? Maybe you could borrow from a friend…rent it at Redbox? Recently, my wife rented a Wii game at Redbox. She was glad she did because she hated it. A Redbox rental of $2.50 versus a purchase price of $39.99 appeals to me and my pocketbook.
Personal responsibility is important in your finances. “Maxed Out” touches on it but it really points out the predatory behavior of the credit card companies with low income borrowers. Let’s not kid ourselves. Credit card companies do prey on the low income and middle class. Credit cards are issued to people in which the credit card companies know are a high credit risk. High Credit Risk = higher interest rate they can charge and higher the late fees they can charge.
I’m no way a financial guru. However, I do know that credit card debt and consumer debt is growing rapidly in this depression era. This is a known fact. Unemployment has been estimated at 17%. This figure includes the official unemployment rate, discouraged workers (the people that have given up looking for full time employment), and people that have taken part time jobs to make one full time job.
Now is the time to get yourself and your family back on track. I leave you with a quote that helps to keep us all on track for improving ourselves and our lives.
“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”