- OCCC Pioneer - http://pioneer.occc.edu -

Managing money takes planning, speaker says

How to handle money wisely was the message when Melissa Crawford, from Oklahoma Money Matters, hosted a Brown Bag lecture March 10 on campus.

“Credit is a valuable tool but it can be dangerous if not used properly,” she said.

The lecture emphasized how important it is to put thought behind what you do with your money.

The average American spends $1.22 for every dollar earned.

“Relying on future money to buy things today is never a good idea,” she said.

You never know what the future will hold.

It is easy for consumers to accumulate debt with credit cards.

Studies show that if you charge $1000 to a credit card that charges 18 percent interest, and only pay the minimum payment, then it will take eight years to pay off. During those eight years you would pay $698.38 in interest.

“Not all credit cards are created equal,” Crawford said. “When a person gets a credit card, they should shop around and find one with no annual fee and the lowest interest rate possible.”

Although credit cards can be great tools, it is best to use cash, Crawford said. Studies show that paying with cash registers in your brain as pain, while using a credit card or other plastic forms of payment have no effect.

One important thing everyone should do is check their credit score regularly. Crawford emphasized that checking your credit score is not only important so that you can check for errors, but also so that you know what creditors are seeing when you apply for a loan or even a job.

“When checking your credit score, the one and only website you should use is annualcreditreport.com.” This website is a government run site that allows you one free credit check every year.

While there are many other sites that claim to give you a free credit score, they might sign you up for services such as credit monitoring that can cost you in the long run.

Many people do not know that things stay on your credit report for seven years.

If a person files for bankruptcy, it could stay on a report for 10 years.

When applying for a credit card or any other type of credit, creditors will look at the types of credit previously used, the length of your credit history, and most importantly your payment history, Crawford said. It is important to pay all of your bills on time so that when creditors look at your payment history, they will not see any unpaid bills.

If a person needs help with debt or credit card bills, there are many services available to help.

The Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Central Oklahoma is a non-profit organization that she recommended to people who need help with debt. The credit counseling service can be accessed by phone at 405-789-2227.

To contact Drew Tarwater, email onlineeditor@occc.edu.