Using credit wisely: The taboo conversation your parents never had!

Many of us, while growing up, had discussions with our parents about the dangers of drugs. And, despite how uncomfortable it might have been for both you and your parents, it’s quite likely that you also had “the talk” about sex. Our parents regularly urged us to stay in school or to pick our friends wisely. But, how many us had a heart-to-heart talk about credit cards.

My guess is not many; and without any guidance, some have learned their lessons about credit and debt the hard way. Advice for parents of young children on when and how to start talking to and teaching your children about money, saving, spending, credit and debt will be reserved for a future column. This week, however, I want to share a few tips with those now struggling with debt. Despite your troubled financial past, there are steps you can take to turn your situation around.

Crystal Keeler, an accountant, recalls her first bout with credit cards.

“I remember arriving to college and, to my amazement, there was a credit card table at the student union. I simply signed my name and like magic I was given a credit line of $2,000. I remember using every bit of it! After failing to pay the bill, the credit card company contacted my mother. Fortunately, my mother assisted me with the debt and decided to have the taboo conversation we never had – using credit wisely.”

Crystal learned from her mistakes, and her ill-fated run-in with credit as a college student led her to develop the strong financial habits she has today.

So, if your parents neglected to teach you about credit cards or even if you knew all of the things you were supposed to do– like paying your bill on time, never maxing out your cards and paying more than the minimum due–but you still didn’t do right, there are some things you can do to turn your financial situation around.

Start Anew

Listen, you can’t blame your financial habits on your parents forever! It’s time to take ownership. Begin by simply listing each credit card liability on paper, from the highest interest rate to the lowest. Attack your debt by paying higher interest credit cards first and subsequently attacking each credit card one at a time.

Face the Music

If you have been ignoring phone calls from your debtors, it’s time to get in contact with them. Set up payment arrangements to take the necessary steps to get out of debt. Most companies are willing to work with you.

Remember, it took some time to get into debt, and it will take time to get out!



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