You’re ugly. You’re dirty. You’re frightened. You’re falling behind. There is a product that can release you from your misery.
Look, here’s a happy person using it right now.
That’s the basic story of advertising in America, says author Vicki Robin, and it works.
For every $1 incomes have risen in the past five years, consumers have spent $1.10, according to the National Foundation for Consumer Credit. That’s helped drive record debt, delinquencies and bankruptcies.
People caught in a confluence of advertising, credit cards and the culture of consumption are bound to overspend, Robin said.
How to get a handle on spending?
Take a class. Consumer Credit Counseling offers financial counseling at no cost and money management classes for a small fee. Call 327-3777 in Spokane or (800) 892-6854 in North Idaho.
Keep $1,000 in a savings account to cover unexpected car repairs, medical bills and job interruptions.
Increase payments on your credit card balances. If you routinely pay only your minimum payments, you’re not paying enough to reduce the debt. Borrow $2,000 at 18.5 percent interest, and it will take 11 years to pay off, plus $1,934 in interest.
If you miss a payment, call your creditor immediately and keep lines of communication open.
If you fall behind on your mortgage, contact the Spokane Neighborhood Action Program mortgage assistance program for counseling and assistance. The number is 456-7105.
Beware of credit repair clinics that claim they can remove bad credit.
Read “Financial Peace,” by Dave Ramsey, on how to save, reduce debt and talk to your family about money.
Read “Your Money or Your Life,” by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin, a nine-step guide to financial freedom. On average, people reduce their monthly spending 20 to 25 percent almost immediately, said Robin, who runs the New Road Map Foundation in Seattle.
Anticipate life changes that make you vulnerable to overspending. Starting college, having a baby and moving can all trigger credit card offers and overextension.