Monday, July 27, 2009

Credit Card Rules - Explained (sort of). What to Do Until Then

On June 11, 2009, I wrote extensively about the new credit card laws - the ones that do us no good at the moment but might as the varied effective dates arrive.

Attached/Linked title of this posting, and again at the end of this entry, is a video that goes through the major points of the new rules.

None of the rules will erase any debt that has already been incurred, regardless of how unfair the borrower believes the debt to be. Interest rates jumping to 30% , late fees of $39 on a balance of $100 with a report of late payments (over 30 days) to the credit agencies, with, of course the accompanying rate increase, and perhaps the most difficult for regular card users, the arbitrary elimination of the available credit/decrease in credit line, without warning or apparent reason.

The 2 real banks, and the 1 "investment bank" (see last post for that definition) that had record profits, Bank of America, CitiBank/CitiGroup, and Goldman Sachs respectively, are the worst offenders. Yesterday, in the Sunday edition of the New York Times, there was a story by David Streitfeld dealing with Bank of America specifically, but the industry in general. In it he describes a woman who could not keep up with the higher and higher interest rates being charged. After pleading with Bank of America to lower the interest rate on her account without success, she just stopped paying her monthly bill. A wise decision? - probably not! - except in this case it was born out of desperation. The result: Bank of America called her with "deals" so she could afford her payments.

Look at the video - read the article in the Times and think about your position. Are you able to go without Credit Cards? Can you pay the minimum payments PLUS 1% of the balance owed to lower the principal and actually pay down the debt? If you can, then you may be able to get out of debt.

Factor in all of your debt - especially the credit cards. IMPORTANT!! - Put together an accurate list of your regular monthly living expenses. Include such things as cigarettes (if you smoke), a reasonable amount for food, eating out if it's unavoidable, enough for gasoline and a monthly budget for car repairs (during the entire year), all of your insurances, clothing (include shoes and underwear), income taxes expected to be paid over and above payroll deductions, student loans, cell phone, cable, Internet, utilities, rent/mortgage, and everything else that you really need to spend or save for each and every month. After all of that, can you pay the minimum PLUS at least 1% of the outstanding balance on all debts, whether each is a credit card, a personal loan from CitiFinancial/HFC,HSBC,Beneficial, or from anywhere else.

If after doing that budget exercise you can make the payments GREAT!! Do not be late on one payment or your plan might become dust in the wind. BUT try. If you cannot, seek financial counseling - not from a TV advertiser promising to reduce your debt to "pennies on the dollar" for a mere $XXXX.XX per month and a non-refundable processing fee of $XXX.XX

Author's Copyright by Richard I. Isacoff, Esq, July 2009

No comments: