More Opinion by The Springboard

THE UPRISING OF THE AMERICAN PARTY "Clearly the voters are engaged right now, at least for sure on the republican side, and what they have concluded is that the republican party has not done their job. Thus, Donald Trump gets their vote."

Thursday, October 22, 2009



We generally may think otherwise, but credit cards are the enemy. They are horrible destroyers of personal wealth and financial freedom. Each and every night that we lay, snuggled comfortably beneath our covers, they are robbing us blind. They aren't after our jewels. They're raiding our coin jars. They're taking a penny here and a penny there. We'll notice the diamond ring in the jewelry case has gone missing. But we'll not so easily recognize when a couple of pennies go missing from the jar. They (the credit card companies) are masters at nickel and dimeing.

When it comes to credit cards, the worst part of all is that we tend to cherish them. We tend to rely on them. In some cases, we may even love them. After all, credit cards give us the feeling that we have an unlimited supply of money in our pockets whenever we want it. We can have whatever our heart's desire. We can conquer any emergency that comes along to haunt us. I remember one guy I used to work with, who with great pride showed me his array of cards which were stuffed into the photo compartment of his wallet. "A couple of these are platinum," he told me through a grin. "I've got nearly $100,000 worth of credit in here."

Good for you, I thought to myself. $100,000 worth of used credit is $100,000 you owe somebody else.

Still, even I'm willing to concede that credit cards can be helpful at times. And they are not all bad. Like all things, moderation and responsibility are key. It's about leveraging, for example, and knowing the difference between borrowing and leveraging. You can, for example, pay for a central air-conditioning repair and use a credit card effectively to do so, if you can pay less in interest for the expense than you are earning on the money you are investing or saving that would have otherwise paid for it.

The little tip I'm offering this week is for those who need to keep a credit card around for a sense of security if something major comes along, who perhaps don't have much in the way of savings to cover major expenses, but who also feel the temptation to use their credit card for non-emergency purposes is simply too great.

Behold. You can have your credit card and use it too.

This is a great idea, and one I won't take credit for, though I can't recall the source. I just recall many years ago seeing this tip in an article somewhere and thought it was not only novel, but genius. It is simply to fill a small bowl with water and submerge your credit card in it. Put it into the freezer and let it freeze. You can, of course, thaw the ice and retrieve your card. But it won't happen as quickly as the impulse to use it will. And by the time the ice melts, so may your desire to go on a costly shopping spree.

Years ago when I was in the Navy, I actually did something similar to this, only in my case I was using a savings account. I opened an account in a bank 30 miles from the ship and made it so that the only way I could get to the money to withdraw it was to physically drive to the bank. No ATM access here, folks. The thought of driving 30 miles made me think twice about spending the money. And even if I hopped into the car in a fleeting moment of weakness, I had 30 miles to think about what I was about to do.

The "How to bring home the bacon without slaughtering the pig" blog series will take a short hiatus, but will return on December 1, 2009 with "Part Five: Keep Your Eyes On Your Money." Also, if you are enjoying The Springboard and would like to receive updates via email when a new blog is posted, send an email to and type "SUBSCRIBE" in the subject line.

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