Posts Tagged ‘Credit card debt’

Note from Wil:
This is a post from Maria Rainer, a self-described “blog junkie”. Maria seems to be writing right in my wheel-house with articles on online education, online degrees, and this latest effort of hers which is a great idea.

I like to include the writings and opinions of as many people as I can, regardless of whether or not I agree with someone’s opinion. If you want to contribute to Finance For Youth: The Blog, send me an email:

Money management—as one of the most recent posts has demonstrated, it’s a principle that is rather difficult for some children to grasp. And like already mentioned in the previous article, if money management skills are not taught at an early age, your child can suffer many consequences and hardships in their future—they can get into debt after college, be forced to barely survive pay check-to-pay check, or ruin their credit early on, preventing them from acquiring a house or car. While open communication and positive affirmation for saving are great techniques to teach your child about finances, another way is discreetly disguise money management lessons via games. The games listed below (which vary from board games, online games and iPhone apps) are designed to teach your children all about their finances, including money management, debt and even the consequences of bad credit—all in a fun and engaging way.

1. Pay Day.


This game may have been originally created in 1975, but the lessons that your child can secretly learn while having a blast with family and friends is still impactful today. Of course the game has had a huge facelift and is modern-looking, but it still teaches the traditional lessons as the original: children learn about employment, loans and interest, as well as the importance of paying bills and handling unexpected expenses. Price: $14.98 on Amazon.


2. The Debt-Free Game.

If the title didn’t blatantly explain the premise of the game as it is, the Debt-Free Game is a board game designed to teach both children and adults about all different aspects of finance, including creating emergency funds, saving for college, paying off credit card debt and car notes. It even teaches children how to differentiate the difference between “wants” and “needs.” The first person to complete their “money tree” using a set of dimes is dubbed the winner. This game is exclusively sold online. Price: $22

3. The Bad Credit Hotel.

The Bad Credit Hotel, which is a by-product of the U.S. Treasury Department, is designed to teach children about, well “bad credit.” Based in a haunted-like hotel, players must use smart-credit card practices and techniques to build up their credit and move on to the next stage. It has “clues” that tell players what they need to do while simultaneously educating players on the importance of credit. Once the player earns a total score of 850 (which is a real-life perfect credit score) he or she wins the game. Price: Free

4. Save! The Game.
iPhone Screenshot 1Lastly the interactive iPhone app Save! The Game is also a great game to teach your child about finance-smarts. As the name suggests, this game takes children into a fantasy world in order to teach children about the importance of saving money and avoiding impulse shopping: players who can dodge the evil “iwannas” successfully and make it to the bank wins the game. Price: Free






Author Bio:

Maria Rainier is a freelance writer and blog junkie. She is currently a resident blogger at First in Education where she writes about education, online colleges, online degrees etc. In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.

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Note From Wil: This is a guest post from Chris Martin, a freelance writer. 

I like to include the writings and opinions of as many people as I can. If you want to contribute to Finance For Youth: The Blog, send me an email:


So maybe you’ve seen this little gem in your email inbox before:

Consolidate Your Credit Card Debt Now!

Keep More $$$ In Your Pocket!

Show Those Nasty Credit Card Companies That YOU’RE The Boss!

Spend Money Again Like it is Water!

Get Rich, Popular, And Better-Looking!



Okay, so maybe this is a slight exaggeration. But many of these ads do tend to promote consolidation of your credit cards like it’s the best thing since sliced bread, the iPhone, and DVRs combined. But what’s the real story on credit card consolidation? Is there a catch?

Here are some of the catchphrases that are often found in these “Consolidate Now!” emails – and how you should perceive them.

“Compute your credit card debt… and see how much money we can save you!”

This is actually a wise thing to do even if you aren’t actively pursuing credit card consolidation. Gather up your credit card bills, then take a pen and paper and write down the amount you owe and the annual percentage rate on each card. Then add up the dollar amounts to determine your total credit card debt.

The way credit card consolidation works is to take that large sum and create a loan with an interest rate that ideally is near the low end of the APRs you have written down (or perhaps even lower than all of them). If a company can offer that kind of a deal to you, it’s worth considering.

“Manage all of your credit card debt with one easy payment!”

This is actually true. If you find that juggling credit card statements and due dates is a hassle, credit card consolidation can solve that problem for you. You only have to make one payment a month to the company that is holding the loan.

“We negotiate with your creditors to get you the best rate possible!”

That’s pretty much true as well, but you need to understand the ramifications of what this means. Consolidation companies contact the credit card companies on your behalf to negotiate an arrangement. This involves the consolidator agreeing to “pay off the debt” on that credit card in exchange for a reduced payoff amount. The credit card company gets a large sum of money up front, and the consolidator in essence “makes a profit” on the loan.

But what also happens is that the credit card company records the fact that you didn’t pay off the entire amount that you charged on your card. This information gets sent to the credit bureaus, and it often has an adverse effect on your credit score. This could create problems if you’re trying to get a mortgage or another type of bank loan. On the other hand, if you find that making one monthly payment to a consolidator keeps you from paying credit card bills late (or missing payments altogether), then over time this will actually improve your credit score because you are paying your debt amount down.

The fine print.

Of course, there are always a few things that the consolidators won’t want to point out to you. Like the fact that some of their loan arrangements can be “re-priced” after a period of time, which means that nifty interest rate you have could increase after a year or two based on market conditions. There may also be penalties if you try to pay off your loan ahead of time – after all, consolidators make money by charging you interest on unpaid balances, so they want you to carry an unpaid balance for as long as possible. Therefore, take the time to read the fine print in the email (or follow the link provided that lists the terms and conditions) before you sign on the dotted line.

Oh, yeah – one other thing. If you choose to go the credit card debt consolidation route, there’s another thing you’ll have to do in order for it to have its intended effect: stop using your credit cards! (Or at the very least, strongly curtail their use.) If you don’t take this vital step, you’ll just get yourself back into debt and wind up even worse off than you were before you consolidated.

The best strategy is to either “go credit less” and pay for everything with cash, checks, or your debit card; or to maintain one credit card for emergencies and for other necessary tasks (like reserving – but not paying for – a hotel room or rental car, for example). It sounds challenging, but it can be done; many people across the country are living “debt-free” lifestyles.

Credit card consolidation may be the right solution to your credit card debt woes. But in order for this to happen, you have to look beyond the hype that gushes out of consolidators’ solicitous emails. A good rule of thumb is: if a phrase is followed by an exclamation point (or several), be sure to check it out to make sure that it isn’t “too good to be true.” 


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