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Give Me Some Credit

If you are over the age of 16 (or maybe even younger), chances are you have already received one in the mail—a credit card offer. Teens are powerful consumers, which means that credit card companies REALLY want to lend teens money. They sometimes resort to misleading and otherwise unsavory tactics to get teens to sign up. A hefty percentage of teenagers have a credit card, and the average college freshman is already carrying about $1500 in personal debt. Just making the minimum payments, that could take up to a decade to pay off, and possibly even more.

The Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility, and Disclosure Act took effect February 22, 2010. One of the good things about this act is that it makes it harder for credit card companies to target teens by not allowing them to give away promotional items for signing up and greatly restricting them from high school and college campuses. It also makes it illegal for anyone under the age of 21 from signing up for a credit card without an over-21 co-signer (I have mixed feelings about this one).

So while this act does a whole lot of good, it won’t be too long before the credit card companies have found a way to get around the new regulations.  Pennsylvania is one of the many states that does not require any sort of personal finance instruction in schools (which I think is a disgrace), so it is up  to give yourself an education in financial literacy so you can avoid debt.

The documentary Maxed Out is a crash-course in American debt, both personal and national. (I just looked up the national debt at www.usdebtclock.org. Almost 13 trillion dollars! Gulp. Not good.)

And now for some light reading:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cash and credit information for teens : tips for a successful financial life including facts about earning money, paying taxes, budgeting, banking, shopping, using credit, and avoiding financial pitfalls / edited by Karen Bellenir 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Money : getting it, using it, and avoiding the traps : the ultimate teen guide / Robin F. Brancato.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The total money makeover : a proven plan for financial fitness/ Dave Ramsey.

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reckless! : how debt, deregulation, and dark money nearly bankrupted America (and how we can fix it!)/ Byron L. Dorgan.

Don’t let debt drag you down–stop it before it starts!

  • Just say no to credit card offers.
  • Make a budget. Know where your money is going.
  • Watch your spending—buy it on sale, buy it used, or not at all.
  • Always pay bills on time.
  • Always put a percentage of your income (even if it is just your allowance) into savings.

~Eva, CLP-Allegheny

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