With all the headlines lately, you’d think that the upcoming credit card reforms are the cure-all for the debt that plagues modern Americans. And you’d be half right; credit card companies should play fair, and if it takes a rolled-up newspaper (in the form of tough legislation) to make them behave, so be it! But reform is only one half of the equation. All the legislation in the world isn’t going to do much if consumers don’t control their spending.
If there’s one good thing to come out of the recession, it’s the fact that millions of us have had to take a good, hard look at our financial situations. It’s scary at first, especially if you’ve been buying things here and there and making minimum monthly payments. You might be shocked to see how much of your income is being eaten by interest, bank fees, and finance charges. The sour economy has given us an opportunity to rethink our spending habits, and the upcoming credit card reforms will make it even easier for us to reduce our credit card debt.
With that in mind, it’s important for us to remember what we’ve learned once the economy struggles back to its feet and credit becomes readily available once more: don’t carry more cards than you need; don’t carry a monthly balance on your cards; and don’t spend beyond your means. Cardholders will soon have new, more enforceable rights. Let’s live up to those rights with a new level of responsibility.