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Credit Card Debt – The Worst Things You Can Do

When it comes to money, no one can make all the right decisions all the time. Most people have done things they later regretted, especially when it comes to credit card debt. It may be a simple thing like getting charged $3 for withdrawing cash from an out-of-network ATM machine or a big mistake like maxing out your cash advance option without any apparent means to pay for it.

Some mistakes are easily resolved while others take years to sort out. Whatever the case, blunders happen when it comes to money management. The important thing is to understand the severity of the transgression. So in this article, we will score common mistakes on a scale of 1 to 10 based on its impact on your finances:

Paying Past Due Date: 5.5

Credit card issuers are never happy with late payers. Because of this, they have severe penalty charges and charge high interest payments for individuals who pay past the due date. In addition, some issuers even report your transgression to the credit bureaus so your credit score will suffer as well. If you’ve been an on-time payer in the past, some companies may let it slide. Just make sure to call them and ask them to waive the interest fee as well.

Paying the Minimum: 5

Generally, credit card companies earn the most from slow payers. Paying only the minimum might not affect your credit score but you might end up paying more on the interest than the principal. This is not a good practice because it keeps you in debt for a lengthier timeframe.

Missing a Payment: 9

This is one of the worst mistakes you can commit if you have a credit card. You will be slammed with high interest rates, penalty fees, and other charges. As if that’s not bad enough, your credit score will also take a huge hit. Because of this, you will need to pay more when you take out a loan next time. In essence, missing a payment is a no-no. Pay the minimum at the very least.

How to Apply the Goals of National Consumer Protection Week to Online Shopping

As mentioned in our previous post, this week, March 1-7, is National Consumer Protection Week.  We outlined the goals of this week, along with the tools the official website offers.  In this section, ComparedForMe.com details how you can apply the goals of National Consumer Protection Week to online shopping.

Online Shopping: A Sea of Possibilities

When it comes to online shopping, the possibilities are endless.  With the simple click of a mouse, you as a consumer are led to hundreds of web pages that feature the type of product or service you are looking to purchase.  Most of these sites claim to offer the most popular and highest quality version.  Given this overwhelming number of options, how do you make a decision about which product or service to buy?

The first bit of text listed within the Consumer Info section of The National Consumer Protection Week website says the following:

“Information can help people get the most for their money, whether they are trying to stretch their paychecks, find a quick fix for a spotty credit history, or tell the difference between a real deal and a potentially fraudulent product or service.”

The keyword: information.  Being an informed online shopper can help you spend your money more wisely.  With that said, let’s explore the ways you can gather specific product and service information.

Comparison Shopping

Comparison shopping is defined as the act of comparing prices of something in advance before shopping for the best bargain.  There are specific websites, such as ComparedForMe.com, that place products and services side-by-side.  They paint an unbiased picture of each product or service, giving the consumer the key information they need to make an informed decision.  This information includes prices as well as the scope of service that each company offers.  Of course you have the option of individually researching each product on your own when comparison shopping; however, this can be a very time-intensive process, especially if you are not familiar with the industry you are researching.

Consumer Reviews

Within a lot of these comparison shopping websites is a section where users like you can post product reviews.  Here on ComparedForMe.com, we encourage you to test out the many free trials you read about.  Documenting your positive and negative experiences with any products or services can help you decide which service you ultimately would like to subscribe to.  Furthermore, posting honest consumer reviews is the type of active participation that National Consumer Protection Week advocates.  The more dialogue consumers generate through open discussion about products and services, the better educated we all become about how to spend our hard-earned money.

What is National Consumer Protection Week & How Can it Help You?

What is National Consumer Protection Week & How Can it Help You?

This week, March 1-7, 2009, is National Consumer Protection Week. This week focuses on helping consumers become more aware and more proactive about their financial situations.  It is a week-long national campaign aimed at providing intensive consumer education. These resources are provided by federal, state, and local government agencies, along with consumer advocacy organizations.

Eileen Harrington, the Director of The Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection stressed that “Practical information is one tool that retains its value, especially in tough economic times.”

In this section, ComparedForMe.com examines what the official website says this week is all about-and how its free tools can help you as a consumer make more informed financial decisions.

The National Consumer Protection Week Website (http://www.consumer.gov/ncpw/index.html) is divided into several helpful sections that are free to access.  Let’s break the website down to give you a clear idea of how the tools they offer can be applied to your own financial and business situation.

Consumer Info

  • This section of the National Consumer Protection Week website is divided into the following sub-sections: Banking, Credit, Consumer Rights, Identity Theft & Fraud, Investments, Money, and Mortgages.
  • Upon clicking on one of the above-mentioned topics, you are taken to a page that gives you the following free resources: Websites, PDF’s, and Online Articles & Tools.
  • These websites, PDF’s, and Online Articles & Tools are presented to you from an unbiased source that has one goal in mind: to arm you with educational information that will help you become more proactive in your financial decision-making.

Business Info

  • This section of the National Consumer Protection Week website is divided into the following sub-sections: Websites, Video, PDF’s, and Online Articles & Tools.
  • Within the Videos section, website visitors are given free access to a video entitled “Protecting Personal Information: A Tutorial for Business.” This is no boring PowerPoint presentation; instead, an attorney for the Federal Trade Commission appears on the screen, speaking to you and walking you through an animated informational session. The simple, “no fluff” language suggests 5 easy-to-follow steps that business owners should take to protect their personal information. A helpful question and answer dialogue is weaved throughout the video as well.
  • In the PDF’s section, the site offers a business-focused Identity Theft Toolkit, courtesy of the Federal Trade Commission.

International

  • The first section gives you access to an international directory of dispute resolution providers (www.econsumer.gov.)
  • The second part links you to The International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network (ICPEN) (www.icpen.org.) ICPEN is made up of governmental organizations worldwide; it oversees fair trade practice laws and encourages consumer protection.

Outreach Toolkit

  • The final section of the site offers the following tools to help your business promote its support of National Consumer Protection Week. These template are extremely user friendly-all you have to do is insert your business information and you’re good to go:

o        Sample Press Release: get your business more exposure while promoting National Consumer Protection Week
o        Sample Newsletter Article: use National Consumer Protection Week as a topic for your company newsletter
o        Sample Event Flyer: use your business to promote events in your own community that encourage consumer              awareness and protection
o        Radio Public Service Announcements:  gives you the option to listen and download them (or follow the transcript and record your own)

Actively participate in National Consumer Protection Week by visiting their website.  The tools they provide will give you a concrete action plan that will help you achieve your short and     long-term financial goals-no matter who you are!

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