Credit cards are part of growing up. It all starts when you reach 18 and begin receiving numerous credit offers in the mail or now days via email. Credit cards seem like an unlimited supply of funds and a very simple way to get the things you want however, credit card debt is a big problem in the United States today. In “How to Take Control of your Credit Cards” author Suze Orman discusses how too many Americans are overusing their credit cards and costing themselves thousands in interest charges. It is seemingly a means to an end and the worst kind of debt consumers can accumulate. In order to gain control of credit card debt consumers must not only learn to live within their means and charge only what they can afford to pay off entirely each month they must develop and follow a plan to eliminate the debt they currently have.
In her article, Orman uses people’s spending habits to categorize them as broke either by choice meaning “you are willfully making your own mess” (210) or circumstance meaning something in life is forcing you to rely on your credit cards. She further offers up instructions and recommendations on how to properly use your credits cards and become a credit card shark, suggesting that one of the most important things a person can do is “take an interest in your rate”. (210) Find out what your interest rate is and take steps to get it lowered or take your business elsewhere. She points out cards to avoid and provisions to watch out for stating they are “hidden in the fine print”. (211) Realizing of course that some people are not financially able to just pay off all their credit cards debt, Orman suggests that you “line up all your cards in descending order of their interest rates” (212) in order to develop a plan to begin to pay off the debt. She suggests that you pay all the minimum monthly payments for each card and pay an additional amount on the card with the highest interest until it is paid off completely. Once the highest interest card is paid off, take the amount you were paying for that card and apply it as the additional amount to the next highest interest card until it is paid off and so on.
According to Orman, this is a “strategy that can put you on a path out of credit card hell” (210) Following this payment system will eventually allow you to be credit card debt free. It won’t be easy but “if you have the desire to take control of your credit card mess you can” (210) just don’t get discouraged during this process because for some people “it may take a year, for others it may take many years.(212) Once you have paid off all your credit card debt there is one simple rule I suggest following: Don’t spend money that you don’t have!
This article was very informative, I thought Orman was able to effectively summarize why people have such high credit card debt while focusing on options for becoming credit card debt free. Her writing was able to portray that although she believes people can overcome their credit card debt she also understands and empathizes with those who financially have no choice but to rely on the use of their credit cards. I personally do not have an enormous amount of credit card debt so I cannot relate to the feelings of stress and financial defeat that most likely comes along with carrying such a debt. I do however; agree that the best way to control your credit card debt is to pay off your credit card balances in full each month. I have insisted that my children, ages 19 and 22, who are just now obtaining their own credit cards do just that.
The one thing that I do have a slight disagreement with in the article is the negotiating with credit card companies for lower interest rates. There are very few credit card companies