Thursday, October 07, 2010

Americans reduce debt spending -- we got the message

If the Federal Reserve or the nation's banks are waiting on U.S. consumers to heat up the nation's economy by going back to our old ways and spending more money on credit, it's going to be a long wait.

The Federal Reserve reported Thursday that credit card debt is down for the 24th straight month.

There are a lot of us out here that got the message that you don't trust us and that you think we are over extended on credit. The truth is, we were overextended, even though we didn't know it until you SCREWED us and jacked up our minimum payments and interest rates, while the Fed rate and the rates banks charge each other plunged to near zero.

You pushed a lot of us to the brink, or past it, financially by pulling the rug out from under us. There are a lot of us that you are charging 20 or 25 percent interest, or more.

I am one of the fortunate ones, in that I still have a job. But my paycheck isn't getting any bigger in this economy, and hasn't for a couple of years now. So, there is only so much money I can pay to banks and creditors, and they are already getting all I can give them and still eat and have a roof over my head. The credit balances are coming down, because I haven't used the cards in a while. But, none of you banks have dropped the interest rates you are charging. So there will be no more charging. My intent is to make that a permanent condition.

The industry commonly refers to credit card debt as "revolving credit." Well, there are plenty of us that are tired of the revolving. We are tired of circling the financial drain, while you make profits off of us that are more than fair, above and beyond covering the losses on credit that goes bad.

I am fortunate that, at least at this point, I got my wake-up call in time. I still have an opportunity to pull back from the drain IF my job doesn't disappear. I'm optimistic I will come of of this economic downturn far better off than I was when it started.

In a way, you did me a favor. Some of you will still get some money out of me for a few more years, based on the credit already extended and the outrageous interest you continue to charge. Before all this started, I was on pace to pay, and keep paying, all of you for decades to come. That will end. Not soon enough, but as soon as I can make it happen.

That may not help the economic recovery today, but it will make me a much wiser consumer in the future. And it is going to make me much more critical of how my money is used, not only by me, but by those I buy things from, those I bank with, invest with and pay taxes to in the future.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Debt snowball is starting to roll

I've paid off my first credit account since deciding to use the debt snowball method to tackle my outstanding debts.

One down. Nine to go, including $100 dollars I owe a family member.

Actually, that $100 should have been the first bill I paid off, but I wanted to tackle the interest-charging creditors first. If all goes as planned, I should get 2 more small debts paid in the next 3 to 4 months, including the family debt, but I am anticipating that the holidays will throw me off my budget, as I have not yet factored in those seasonal expenses into my new budget, the snowball may grind to a halt in December.

Still, it feels good to be not only seeing the total debt number slowly falling but to now know I will be paying one fewer creditor each month.

I am also well on my way to making this whole thing an official Total Money Makeover, a la Dave Ramsey. I actually found a used copy of Ramsey's "The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness" book last week and bought it. I finished reading it in three days. The steps farther down the line, like aggressive saving for retirement, even wealth building, seem far, far away.

But it's a start. The debt snowball is starting to turn over.

I also closed two credit accounts this week I had, which were active but had no outstanding balances.

Onward and downward.

The End Debt Daily