Say no to credit card offers
It is very hard for some people to say no. Reasons for this difficulty vary as widely as the individual, but regardless of the reasons, folks who prefer saying "yes" rather than "no" often find themselves wishing they had said no in the beginning. However, the regrets generally don't surface until much later, when they're buried in the extra project at work they should have turned down, or miserable at the boring party to which they should have declined the invitation, or, in the case of credit card (better described as "debt card") holders, struggling to pay back high amounts of debt on the plastic they should have tossed in the trash instead of putting into their wallets.
Make no mistake, these seductive little pieces of plastic are often very hard to turn down. After all, what's not to like? The companies offering these deadly time bombs know exactly how to appeal to our worst instincts when it comes to spending. "Don't worry that there's not enough in the checking or savings account to take that luxury vacation to the Caribbean," they'll tell you. "Our credit card will turn your dreams into reality." Of course, those are not the exact words they are using. Master con-artists that they are, we can't accuse them of being that stupid. Try a little experiment the next time you're watching your favorite television program. When an ad for American Express, Visa, Mastercard or Discover comes on, pay close attention to the message. Trust me, the debt card companies are not encouraging you to save your money - they're seducing you into spending it. Unfortunately, it's money you may not have and will end up owing later–with high amounts of interested piled on top. That's when your one-time dream turns into your worst nightmare.
Capital One gets the highest grades for advertising creativity in my book, especially since they hired actor and comedian David Spade for their more recent campaigns. Playing the role of the sleazy customer service representative, Spade denies customers each of their requests, with hilarious variations on the "no" theme. After hearing it so many times, a customer finally gets fed up and announces "I'm calling Capital One." Horrified, Mr. Sleazy finally realizes he's lost a customer and exclaims "No!" but it's already too late, the customer is gone. The message, of course, being that Capital One has a lot more to offer than Sleazy's company. Exactly what they are offering, however, is never explained.
Is there any reason why we can't do the same thing to all debt card companies? I can't think of any. So let's use the "tell ‘em no" campaign to our advantage and have some fun in the process. Most banks and financial institutions tend to send what I call their "siren song" offers in the mail. No doubt because they know very well that telemarketers, no matter what they're selling, tend to get an instant hang-up far more frequently than a sale. This denies us the opportunity to have a little fun with the customer service reps on the phone, but you can save the offer(s) you receive. At the end of the day, week or month, whichever you prefer, take out all the aggressions you may have against a boss or other annoying person on the debt card offers instead. Take out the offers from their hiding place, and, with a large pair of scissors, cut them up into small pieces on their way to the trash can. If you are lucky enough to own a personal shredder, open the envelopes, put in each piece of paper separately, and watch them come out in ribbons at the bottom. Just make sure you remove any simulations of the actual "card" they might have included first, since plastic is very likely to damage the shredder. Use your scissors for plastic.
While you're watching each piece of mail get ripped apart by the shredder or cutting them up manually with your scissors, now is the time to have some fun saying "no," if you're one of the no-phobes who has difficulty using it. As Spade would say, "mix it up." You could alternate between "no" and "good-bye," with catchy little phrases for each. Variations on 'no' include "no thanks," "don't think so," "don't want to," and "ain't gonna happen." For 'good-bye,' you might also want to use, "so long," "later," get lost," and of course "good riddance." Don't worry about hurting someone's feelings by indulging in this very useful exercise. Contrary to what you may believe, the reps at the debt card companies couldn't care less whether you accept their offer or not. Considering that the whole idea of sending these offers is to get you into debt, you shouldn't feel the least bit guilty for trashing them.
But if you still have one or two pangs of guilt after they land in the garbage can, consider these myths and facts about debt cards, and the companies who offer them.
Myth: Banks and financial institutions want to help you. Fact: Banks and financial institutions are NOT your friends. They offer you credit cards to get you to give them your money...and give, and give, and give.
Myth: The only way you can get what you want now is to use credit cards. Fact: You can still get what you want without using credit cards. It just means you might have to wait until later, when you actually have the money in your checking account to buy it.
Myth: Your bank will make sure your spending limit isn't too high to pay. Fact: Your bank will raise your limit at some point, and they're counting on you to reach it.
Myth: Your credit card account is found money, and it is yours to spend. Fact: It is NOT your money, as you will find out very quickly if you max out your card at the limit the bank sets. You will owe this money to THEM.
Myth: You don't have to understand the terms of your account, you can trust your bank representative to explain them to you. Fact: The bank wants you to remain ignorant of the exact terms, and they probably won't be too eager to educate you.
Myth: By raising your limit, the bank is doing you a favor. Fact: The bank is doing you a terrible disservice by encouraging you to spend more than you can afford. They're doing it for them, not for you.
Myth: You cannot live comfortably without credit cards. Fact: You CAN live comfortably without credit cards. Don't confuse comfort with luxury.
Myth: Credit cards make your life easier. Fact: Credit cards make your life very hard when you end up owing large amounts of money on each one.
Myth: The more cards you have, the more extra money you have. Fact: The more cards you have, the more money you will eventually owe.
Myth: No matter how much debt you have, you can control it. Fact: If your debt reaches the point where you are paying most of your paycheck towards it, you will have lost control. The debt will control you.
If you already have a credit card, especially a Mastercard or Visa, you don't need any others. So any time you get more offers in the mail, you can either save them up for cutting later or do it immediately. Personally, I find that immediately is better than later. And "tell ‘em no" as the offer disappears. You'll love that feeling of power.