‘It’s still money’: Financial advisers warn against credit card debt

Published 12:00 am Sunday, July 30, 2000

Every day, millions of Americans open their mailboxes to find it filled with credit card offers. Promises of pre-approved credit lines of up to thousands of dollars make the offers too tempting for many consumers to resist.

Steve Plauch\u00E9, financial advisor for the Century Group in Natchez, said the booming economy has contributed to the easy availability of the cards.

The companies begin targeting teenagers as soon as they graduate from high school, Plauch\u00E9 said, and then turn up the marketing pressure in college, where card application booths are found on every campus corner.

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The willingness of credit companies to distribute cards so readily has done much to contribute to Americans’ growing dependency on plastic.

&uot;You just about have to have (a credit card) in this day and time,&uot; said Mike Malone, vice president of Britton & Koontz First National Bank in Natchez.

John Mark Williams of Concordia Bank and Trust Co. agrees. &uot;You can’t live without borrowing money at some point,&uot; he said, pointing out credit cards are actually a form of loan.

Mississippi banking Commissioner John Allison also said credit card abuse, not the cards themselves, are the problem. &uot;If you can manage your money, credit cards can be convenient,&uot; Allison said.

Plauch\u00E9 compares an individual’s finances to that of a business. Just as businesses need loans to operate, credit cards can be useful to personal success. &uot;It’s when their eyes get bigger than their stomach,&uot; he said, that the problem starts.

In 1997, the Consumer Federation of America reported the total interest paid by consumers to be more than $60 billion, with an additional $10 billion in feefor many consumers to resist.