A Home Inspector’s Weblog by Frank Schulte-Ladbeck

exploring homes and the lives in them around Houston

Victory Not So Close: Organize and Control Your Credit Cards

That’s shocking, we need to watch that story. The story though has no shocking implications. Every evening the news forecast’s teaser indicates that some fantastic story is underfoot that will effect our lives, and I am always disappointed by the facts. Well, they succeeded in keeping me watching, which was the point. I actually do not watch the local news too much, but I do listen to it on the radio; however, I found that the quick snippet delivered on my favorite station was a bit misleading.

Maybe my memory is fading with age, but I remember loans be easier to obtain. Lenders seem not to want to give you a loan, which provides them with less money. Credit is easier to find. When I was doing research into how a home buyer could navigate the mortgage market, I signed up for some e-newsletters from various sites, so I could keep up to date on what people would be seeing. Every time the Fed lowers its prime lending late, I quickly receive a missive telling me to apply for more credit now, because it is the best moment for credit. The unfortunate aspect of credit is that the lenders control the situation, with no one looking out for us. With the subprime credit crisis still causing ripples in our economy, the government has decided to check the unfair practices of these lenders, but it may not happen as we might hope.

When I was teaching managers the financial concerns of their jobs, I incorporated examples of personal finance into the lesson. I began to notice that many believe that they could get away with small things, and it would be alright. Payment is due on Sunday, so Monday delivery would be fine. Their interest rates were increasing, but surely it would not affect them. Their credit reports would be damaged, which they never checked anyway. The offers kept coming for my credit, so life was good. I found that understanding the basic principles by which their card operated was not given a thought.

The other issue was organization. My wife throws most of her papers into a single box. If she remembers, she will hand me her credit card bill in time to make the deadline. For that reason, I take all of our invoices to store away. I have a file for them in my desk, which I go over once a week. I like to write down the date I dealt with the bill, and the date it will be paid, since I use e-banking, where I can have it delivered on a certain date. You could pick any place to store the bills, but place all of them in one spot, and make sure that you deal with them each week. Controlling these payments helps you stay in control of your financial life.

My hope is that the new regulations go into effect, and that they are not quietly rescinded later. With the election year at hand, our officials will want to come to us with rules that show they are concerned, but banks do give a good amount for campaign donations. Eventually they may just convince our leaders that these regulations are to binding on them, so without fanfare, they could go away, unless we pay attention to what our credit providers are doing, and we react to it (maybe by not using their card).

Your Houston home inspector,

Frank Schulte-Ladbeck

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