Beware of the Credit Card Minimum Payment Trap
- Steve Diggs Personal Finance and Life-Skills Coach
- 2012 2 Feb
When it comes to credit cards—there’s an important topic to consider: the minimum payment trap. Millions of Americans think they’re doing just fine as long as they make the minimum payment each month. But, believe me, if that’s all you’re paying you’ve already got one foot in the financial grave and the other on a banana peel!
Credit card companies love people who make the minimum payment and let the balance go unpaid month after month. And, conversely, credit card companies don’t like you very much if you pay off the entire amount each month—because you’re only making them a little bit of money. Most of these companies make a huge percentage of their profits from interest and various late charges and service fees. As a matter of fact, if you pay your entire balance every month, the credit card companies call you a deadbeat!
Let me illustrate how this works. Suppose you have a credit card balance of $4,000 (that’s only a half or a third of what many families carry), and you decide to pay just the minimum each month. Now let’s assume that your credit card company’s minimum monthly payment is 2 percent. (That’s more than some cards require. But let’s use this figure since the more you pay—the faster it goes away.) At that rate, we’d send in the first monthly payment of $80. Depending on the interest rate and various other details of your contract, some experts estimate that it could take more than thirty years to pay off your $4,000 debt!
One of the most important credit card disciplines is to determine (with no exceptions) to pay every single penny every single month. Failure to do this means that you will have to do the following:
Get in front of a mirror and have a little 12-Step meeting with yourself. This is when I look at me in the mirror and I say, “Hi. I’m Steve and I’m a spendaholic!” Think about it. Despite what our culture may say, if you are spending money that you don’t have, one of two things is true: you are either a spendaholic—or, you’re a thief!
If you aren’t paying off the full balance every month—get rid of the credit cards! This means that we must get rid of all the cards. Just like an alcoholic who wants to stop being an alcoholic—you have to stop using credit cards cold turkey! Remember, part of the strategy for overcoming alcoholism does not include leaving one bottle of vodka on top of the refrigerator—just in case you have an emergency! Get rid of the credit cards!
I don’t mean to be a killjoy here. But I am telling you the hard truth. If you can’t (or, won’t) pay off the full amount every month, your life will be much easier without credit cards. Think about it.
Steve Diggs has presented the No Debt No Sweat! Money Management and ReTooled & ReFueled Essential Life-Skills Seminars over 500 times at churches, colleges, conferences and other venues nationwide. Visit Steve at www.NDNS.org, www.RetooledAndRefueled.com or www.SteveDiggs.com or call 615-834-3063. Today, as the author of seven books Steve is a TV commentator and fulltime speaker. For 25 years he was President of the Franklin Group, Inc. Steve and Bonnie have four grown children whom they have home schooled. The family lives in Brentwood, Tennessee.