Using credit wisely: The taboo conversation your parents never had!

Many of us, while growing up, had discussions with our parents about the dangers of drugs. And despite how uncomfortable it might have been for both you and your parents, it’s quite likely that you also had “the talk” about sex. Our parents regularly urged us to stay in school or to choose our friends wisely. But not many of us had a heart-to-heart talk about credit cards.

Without any guidance, some people have learned their lessons about credit and debt the hard way. Advice for parents of young children on when and how to start talking to and teaching your children about money, saving, spending, credit and debt will be reserved for a future column. This week, however, I want to share a few tips with those now struggling with debt. Despite your troubled financial past, there are steps you can take to turn your situation around.

Crystal Keeler, an accountant, recalls her first bout with credit cards.

“I remember arriving to college and, to my amazement, there was a credit card table at the student union. I simply signed my name and like magic I was given a credit line of $2,000. I remember using every bit of it! After failing to pay the bill, the credit card company contacted my mother. Fortunately, my mother assisted me with the debt and decided to have the taboo conversation we never had – using credit wisely.”

Crystal learned from her mistakes, and her experience with credit as a college student led her to develop the strong financial habits she has today.

So, if your parents neglected to teach you about credit cards or even if you knew all of the things you were supposed to do– like paying your bills on time, never maxing out your credit cards and paying more than the minimum due, but simply did not. There are some things you can do to turn your financial situation around.

Start Anew

Listen, you cannot blame your financial habits on your parents forever! It’s time to take ownership. Begin by simply listing each credit card liability on paper, from the highest interest rate to the lowest. Attack your debt by paying higher interest credit cards first and subsequently attacking each credit card one at a time.

Face the Music

If you have been ignoring phone calls from your debtors, it’s time to contact them. Set up payment arrangements to take the necessary steps to get out of debt. Most companies are willing to work with you.

Remember, it took time to get into debt; therefore it will take time to get out!

Remember, Your Choice, Your Future!

Kemberley Washington is a certified public accountant and a business professor at Dillard University.  Follow her on Twitter or subscribe to her blog


6 thoughts on “Using credit wisely: The taboo conversation your parents never had!

  1. Yep you’re right about that at least from my personal experience. We covered drugs, safe sex, and just about every other subject that was dangerous — though just the physically dangerous ones. The credit and credit card talk would have been useful. You can ask my 20’s for confirmation on that one.

  2. Hi Kem,

    I heard Dave Ramsey advocate using the snowball effect to pay down credit card debt, which is paying off the card with the smallest balance first and then using the freed up cash to pay down your next card. What do you think about that method?

    • I think that is a great way to pay down debt. I am writing a book now, and I discussed creating a debt reduction plan. Taking time to understand who you owe, what do you have in your possession to pay down debt, and to continue to say “no” to debt!

      Some also used the method of paying the highest interest debt first. All methods are great and some may encourage you in different ways. But the real key that works time and time again is having a set plan in place! No matter which method you choose, put it on paper and stick to your plan and you will be able to reduce your debt steady over time.

  3. Pingback: Financial Problems are Temporary |

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