We are a nation drowning in credit card debt. The total on our collective plastic is far more than the bailout Washington is trying to cobble together, and to many of us, the zeroes are incomprehensible. Americans now carry $850 billion dollars in credit card debt. WOW. I’m a BIG believer in personal responsibility, and I’d like to campaign this election season for more of it – from everyone. Yet, when I hear about banks and credit card companies knowingly pushing people further into debt, I can’t help but cut the victims some slack.
Two former account managers for a major credit card company tell CNN they were paid to aggressively push cash advances, even getting customers to max out their available credit. "I would say 90 percent of the time, people were pragmatic. They would say, 'I don't need $100,000,' and we would find a way to convince them they needed the money," one woman recalled. The other former employee called the entire system “a great big con.” Makes you feel all warm and fuzzy.
Could any bank or credit card company really get away with this? Are they actively pushing us to overextend, in order to increase their bottom line? Deb Feyerick has your answers.
The last thing any of us need to do in this economy is hurt our all-important credit. One way to lessen your chances of rejection come loan-time: stay on top of your credit limits. Of course, it would be much easier to keep that credit and credit score in tip-top shape if someone, ANYONE would reveal just how that little number is calculated, but somehow I don’t think that will happen.
My Dad sold cars. I loved visiting him at work. I’d check out the new models in the showroom, pretend to take my chosen model for a test drive and then head back to the shop where the smell of motor oil was like a warm blanket. I loved everything about it: the grease, the tools, the bad lighting, the revving engines…the Coke machine near the break room with the weak coffee-turned-sludge simmering on a hot plate. I am nostalgic for those days and those comforting smells. To this day, when I drop my car off for service, part of me wants to wait in the shop while it’s fixed.
As much as I loved my Dad’s job, and as glamorous as it seemed, the wisdom of my teenage years (ha!) and early 20’s eventually set-in, and I began to see how difficult it was. Forget the bad wrap and being the butt of jokes (lawyers, do you feel me here, too?) – how about putting food on the table? The 80’s were brutal. Even worse? Selling a car today. I never understood then how a car dealership could make enough money to pay all of its employees. Yes, the service department counts for something, but when you’re talking car sales, how many people are actually buying cars every month?
Families across the South know the reality all too well. Tonight, many are learning they’ll no longer even have the chance to eek out a living selling cars. Bill Heard – the biggest Chevy dealer in the US – is closing its 13 remaining dealerships. The weak economy, lofty gas prices, and an inventory loaded with trucks and SUVs add up to a business that just can’t sustain itself any longer.
OK – I really need to give you something positive to take away from this blog! Seems like the perfect time for a CNN Hero, no?
It is my pleasure to introduce you to a woman who is keeping 10 year olds from being married to men three times their age, and who is giving children hope and a future.
Anderson Cooper goes beyond the headlines to tell stories from many points of view, so you can make up your own mind about the news. Tune in weeknights at 8 and 10 ET on CNN.
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