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Watch credit card debt

October 28, 2012
The Herald-Star

To the editor:

Our father passed on to his children and grandchildren a strong work ethic - be honest, keep your word and money doesn't grow on trees. We had household chores and were required to earn money in little jobs like babysitting until we turned 16 and then got a part-time after-school job.

We had to pay for some of our school supplies, a few clothes and then extra whims and desires we might have. It taught us the value of money.

I attended Steubenville High School and have fond memories of a wonderful teacher, William Ellis, who taught a home and family relations class. He taught us practical ideals on being good wives, husbands and parents and how to become responsible adults. He also taught us in black-and-white figures how foolish it was to borrow money from loan companies that charged excessively high compound interest rates. His class validated all that daddy was trying to teach us. In today's world, that would be using credit cards recklessly.

Let me give you an example of his lesson. Today, credit cards charge between 20 percent and 25 percent interest, some even higher on carryover balances. If you just have to have that $5 cup of coffee on your way to work each morning and charge it, that amounts to $25 a week, $100 a month and $1,200 a year. If you regularly make other unnecessary charges like buying lunch and picking up fast-food for dinner, charging your monthly utility bills and make only the minimum payment, you well are on your way to a debt problem.

The $1,200 coffee debt at 25 percent interest is $300 in interest in the first year. If carried over, the debt owed is $1,500, and the next year's interest is $375.

Mr. Ellis made a believer out of me - never borrow money for frivolous things.

Two weeks ago, NBC reported that the average credit card debt is now of great concern, with the average amount of $20,000 to $30,000 per family. Do the math - at 25 percent interest, the first year's interest is $5,000. Our nation's debt to China and other countries is $6 trillion and growing at the rate of $1 trillion every year. I started searching on the Internet and found that the interest only that we owed China was $23 billion for the first quarter. Our interest accrues at $2.5 million per minute, or $150 million per hour. has a debt clock and other interesting figures. This has to stop. If it doesn't, our nation will go bankrupt, like Greece. Our government does not owe us to pay for every little cup of coffee we want. We all have to take some personal responsibility for our budgets, buckle our belts a little bit and stop the madness.

Money doesn't grow on trees.

Dottie Helsley


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