Road Signs for self help and personal development

More Guidance on Dealing with Credit & Debt

Off we go to jobs we may or may not love, afraid to leap out on our own and follow our bliss, because we are servicing debt - the car payment, the house payment, and the credit cards. 

Here are some warning signs to help guide you to safety. 

Don't let debt rob you of your peace of mind, your freedom, your time, or your wealth.


Truth About Credit

Best Advice

Do it Yourself

Credit Card Hell


Personal Development


Dealing with Credit & Debt




I got this caution theme from  "The Truth about Credit" page from U.S. PIRG

The Credit Card Trap - How to Spot it, How to Avoid it

Credit card companies are flooding us with card solicitations, deceiving us with misleading offer terms, and gouging us with higher-than-ever fees. As a result, consumers are sinking further into high-cost credit card debt. As consumers struggle, credit card companies are making bigger profits than ever. (2001-04-05) [to read the rest of the article, click above]

The Truth About Credit project has a ton of valuable and entertaining resources.

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Best Advice:

1. Carry only one or two major credit cards, and avoid using the full available credit line. Remember that credit card purchases are more expensive than cash or check purchases once interest and other fees are included. Use credit cards sparingly and wisely. [Remember, you promised yourself it was only for emergencies? Keep to that.]

2. Pay off all balances in full every billing period, or pay as large a portion of the remaining balance as possible, making the largest payments toward the card with the highest interest rate. Always pay more than the minimum, if possible!  

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Learn all you can before you get a credit card, use a credit card, or try any of the debt consolidation services.

Federal Trade Commission Facts for Consumers

The Federal Trade Commission Bureau of Consumer Protection has a ton of great information on credit, debt, and getting out of debt. Ask for their brochures "Knee-Deep in Debt," "Fair Debt Collection," and "Credit Repair: Self-Help May Be Best." The subject of the last one is "any thing a 'credit repair company' can do for you, you can do for yourself for free."

Find them at or call 1-877-FTC-HELP

Federal Trade Commission Bureau of Consumer Protection, Office of Consumer & Business Education.  (back to top)


Tips for Doing It Yourself

Besides a trip to the library, or checking out the Internet for tips and advice, you can consult certified credit counseling or debt management agencies. These non-profit firms provide expert advice on how to manage your debt. For people with extensive debt, these organizations will help you formulate a debt management plan. One of the largest is the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC), a national nonprofit network of 1,450 centers across the U.S. Among the other leading agencies are American Consumer Credit Counseling and Consumers First.  (back to top)



Too Late? Already in Credit Card Hell?

In May 2002, I began using a debt consolidation program. They had great ads on t.v. about "working with your creditors" to get the finance charge, interest rate, and monthly payments reduced. I wasn't behind in my payments; they had just gotten so large that it had become overwhelming. I was really scared and I was getting tons of offers from "debt relief" programs. I thought I could get help to repay the debts and still have a life. It was a terrible mistake.
The company wanted a month's payment up front to "set up" my account. Instantly I was a month behind in my payments. I sent them my monthly payments... they were to make the payments to my credit card companies and they charged me 10% for handling it. However, the payments to the credit cards were not on time and I got further behind. Do you see where this is going?
4 months after entering the program and getting a couple of months behind, the debt consolidation program had my accounts "re-aged" to remove the late status. Remember that I wasn't behind in my payments until I entered the program.
When I told the program counselors that I couldn't make the high payments, they assured me that if I would make them for six months that they would be able to get the payments reduced. But they couldn't. Then I had expensive car repairs and no savings and no credit to cover it and I missed the program payment. I let them know what was wrong; but they didn't intercede with the credit card companies for me. Because I hadn't made the payments as I was supposed to, the credit card companies began collecting actions again including the constant phone calls. Even though I had a compelling reason, as far as the credit card companies were concerned I'd defaulted. I found I was further in debt than when I started the program and my credit report was negative, too.  It took me 3 years to clear this up, but by 2006 I paid off all of those debts. As a happy little afterthought, that debt consolidation program was the subject of a class action lawsuit. Wouldn't it be nice if that settled for a hefty chunk of change?
WARNING:  I urge you to avoid using a commercial debt consolidation program. If you choose this route, use only a real not-for-profit program - find a legitimate one through
the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC). Watch out for credit counseling services that claim to be non-profit, but in reality are making a killing off bad advice and poor service.


Credit Counseling Services:

First-Ever Study of Credit counseling finds high fees, bad advice, and other abuses by new breed of "Non-Profit" Agencies

--Credit Card Company Practices Have Helped Create Counseling Crisis--

"As more Americans seek assistance for serious debt problems, the National Consumer Law Center (NCLC) and Consumer Federation of America (CFA) unveiled Credit Counseling in Crisis, a report detailing the severe threat to consumers from a new generation of credit-counseling agencies. The comprehensive study found that, unlike the previous generation of mostly creditor-funded counseling services, these new agencies often harm debtors with improper advice, deceptive practices, excessive fees and abuse of their non-profit status."

Read the report at


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Truth About Credit

Best Advice

Do it Yourself

Credit Card Hell

Credit Counseling Services

The Twelve Steps of Debtors Anonymous

Based on the successful AA twelve step program, this one focuses on debting. Click here:  You may think you do not have a debt problem, certainly not a compulsive problem but you will be surprised when you read the "Signs of Compulsive Debting."

For example, difficulty in meeting basic financial or personal obligations, and/or an inordinate sense of accomplishment when such obligations are met - that doesn't sound so bad, does it? Living from paycheck to paycheck - that's all of us, isn't it?

In our society we are encouraged to see debt as normal. When we think of "debt" we think of credit cards, maybe even the car payment, but do you consider your mortgage when you think of debt? How about your tax bill?

Take a good long honest look at the level of debt in your life and ask yourself, "How can I change this?" Reduce the debt in your life. Be Free.


Mandatory Arbitration:

You probably received a notice in very small print that your credit card has adopted a mandatory arbitration clause. You either have to accept this clause or pay off and close the account. You have very little choice.

However, these clauses have been found to be a violation of your rights in several courts. What it does is prohibit the consumer from seeking redress of grievances from the government in court.

Public Citizen:

“Arbitration clauses are achieving their intended purpose of undermining consumer protection, civil rights, and other laws that level the playing field between big businesses and individuals. The individual is left with no choice but to waive these rights, because arbitration clauses are presented on a take-it-or-leave-it basis.” Public Citizen.

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Please use anything you can from what I offer. If it is on this page, I found it useful. But that doesn't mean it will work for you. Any problems or complaints with any thing here will be between you and that company. I am not guaranteeing that it will work for you or be right for you. If you have questions, you can ask me.

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Personal Development







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