An Answer To John's Question… by 720 Credit Score
Sometimes, I hear from people who are drowning in debt. They just don’t know what to do to get themselves out of their financial holes…
One of my readers, John, recently left such a comment on my blog, and I wanted to take this opportunity to answer it. Here is a summary of his comment:
I recently filed bankruptcy, and I know I need to open three new credit cards, but I cannot get the secured cards that you recommend because I have no extra money. Please help me. I’m drowning.
Okay, I have several pieces of advice…
First, if you have been through a bankruptcy, it is important to open three new credit cards after the bankruptcy has been discharged.
I recommend secured cards, which require you to pay a deposit. But if secured cards are not an option, then I recommend becoming an authorized user on someone else’s credit cards (in good standing).
If neither of these options are available, then and only then should you apply for subprime credit cards.
I dislike subprime credit cards because they usually come with high fees and high interest rates. You can’t do anything about the high fee charged to you upfront (or annually), but you can avoid the interest by charging only small amounts on your credit card to keep it active, and then paying the balance in full.
That said, I have another concern about John’s message: “Please help me. I’m drowning …”
This is my advice: Do not use credit cards as a method of paying for day-to-day life, especially post bankruptcy, unless you have a long-term budget that shows you can repay the debt.
If your budget does not prove that you can repay the credit card debt you plan on incurring to pay off your other bills, you will find yourself even deeper underwater in the months and years to come.
Yes, credit cards are a great tool for getting yourself out of a financial jam, but only when you know you have the means to pay your bills down the road.
You must—must, must, must—create a budget, take a hard look at your finances, and know exactly and when you can pay off those credit cards.
Philip X. Tirone
P.S. As always, leave your comments and concerns below!