Dear Dave: I’ve got about $3,000 in credit card debt. Would it be a good idea to transfer the balance from my credit card to another one that has a much lower interest rate?
Dear Tammi: Lots of people who find themselves in your shoes make the switch to low-interest rate credit cards. A lower interest rate will help you save a little money in the short-term, but the drawback is it can also make you feel like you’ve addressed your problem with debt when you really haven’t. You’ve got to change the behavior and the mindset that put you in that situation in the first place. Besides, most low-interest, or no-interest, credit card offers are only good for a short period of time. There’s always a catch!
I discovered long ago that personal finance is only about 20% head knowledge and 80% behavior. Emotion is a key element to getting out of debt and staying out of debt. You’ve got to get really mad at debt and the impact it has on your financial life, and attack it with a vengeance. Think about how many times debt has been a negative influence on your life. My guess is there were many occasions in the past when you could have done great stuff — I’m talking about meaningful, important things — if you hadn’t had to send a bunch of money to those bozos at the credit card company every month. I want you to really think about it.
How about this? First, cut up your credit card and close the account. Then, sell some stuff and take a part-time job nights or weekends for just a little while. You could wipe out all your debt in less than a year by doing that and starting to live on a strict, written, monthly budget.
If you don’t get mad about it and take a stand against debt, and become determined you’re never going to fall into that trap again, you’re liable to find yourself back in the same situation or worse!
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