Dear Mary: I read your book “Debt-Proof Living” and was excited to implement your Rapid Debt-Repayment Plan. We did well the first month, but we have fallen off the wagon and are behind on payments again. Even though I feel discouraged, we have not tapped our credit cards. I know that we will have to start all over again. Do you have any wise words of advice? — Teresa G., California
Dear Teresa: Want to know how many times I fell off and had to get back up on that wagon? Too many to count. I don’t recommend it, because each time you fall off, you only delay the process.
You’re being too soft on yourselves. You need to get tough. That starts with getting downright angry! Get angry at the decisions that brought you to this place in your life and angry for believing that credit cards would make your life easier. Get angry that you have all this debt to repay! Then give yourselves a swift kick in the rear, grit your collective teeth, and direct that anger at your outstanding debt. It’s making your lives miserable, and it has to go!
Thanks for reading my book. I tell you with gratitude and amazement that it has helped untold thousands of people to get out of debt and onto a path of living below their means. I know it can do the same for you. Just keep going, and don’t ever give up!
Dear Mary: I am 24 and will be a senior in college next year. I plan to apply for my first credit card to start building credit. I plan to travel, so I would like a card that can be used abroad. However, looking into credit cards has been difficult. I am limited in what I can apply for because I don’t have a credit history or a steady in-come. I work during the school year only. Do you have any recommendations? — Mariah S., e-mail
Dear Mariah: Banks are becoming averse to risk, and that is causing them to pull back from offering credit to students with the kind of ease they once did. As of this writing, Capital One is the only card I know of that does not charge any conversion fees on purchases made in foreign countries. However, credit card features are changing rapidly. Look at what Capital One would offer you. Then you should visit: http://www.IndexCreditCards.com for a current list of credit card offers for students. Be sure to read all the fine print and know fully what you’re getting into before you submit an application.
If you plan to use a credit card abroad, I hope you are not planning to travel on credit and come home with a load of debt. Make a personal commitment never to allow a balance to roll over from one month to the next. You cannot afford to do that.
Do you have a question for Mary? E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to Everyday Cheapskate, P.O. Box 2135, Paramount, Calif. 90723.