BOSTON (CBS) – These Trick or Treat credit tips came across my desk from the National Foundation for Credit Counseling and I thought the ideas were good ones but I might answer them differently or add something to them. So here is my take on them.

The National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) is the organization I recommend to listeners whenever they tell me they need help with credit card debt. And it wants to encourage consumers to review their actions to see if they might result in a trick or a treat. So we will look at the best of the list over the next 3 days for the trick or treat theme is appropriate for Halloween, All Saints Day and All Souls Day.

  • Discontinuing the use of credit
    • Treat:  Living on a cash basis means that you never overspend or pay interest on your purchases.  Typically, people who pay with cash save 20 percent over those who charge their goods and services.
    • Trick:  At some point in their life, most people will need access to credit. Consumers will be well served by creating a thick and positive credit file.  To do so, it is necessary to have at least three open and active lines of credit.
    • Dee: All that is true, but you need to learn to manage your credit and pay off your credit cards every month. Most of us will need to borrow for we cannot save enough money for a house, car or a college education.


  • Automatic bill paying
    • Treat:  Arranging for your payments to be sent to creditors before the due date means you’ll never pay a late fee or have a dinged credit report.
    • Trick:  If you neglect to balance your check register and the automatic payment results in an overdraft, you’ve defeated the purpose.
    • Dee: Many consumers do not balance their checkbooks each month. You need to do that and use software like Quicken to help you keep track of your expenses. You should be aware of how much you are charging each month. You can keep a running total in your checkbook so you know what to expect on the credit card bill. What I do periodically is check my balance on line.


  • Bundling of services
    • Treat:  Consumers can often enjoy a significant savings if they use the same provider for their land phone, cell phone, cable and Internet services.
    • Trick:  If you use the savings from the bundling of services for a larger, more expensive plan than you really need, it’s no savings at all.
    • Dee: I am a firm believer in having a landline phone so this makes sense to me.
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