BOSTON (CBS) – At one time or another we all have done dumb things with our money but we can learn from our mistakes! And hopefully we can learn from other people’s mistakes.

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So I thought we would spend the week looking at the common mistakes people make over and over again and maybe, just maybe, we can help you avoid some of these.

I did an informal poll and found that the number one area where listeners have made mistakes has been with credit. Usually misusing it.

There are times in everyone’s financial lives when they may come up short one month and don’t have the  dollars to make a full payment on the credit card bill. The really dumb move is the individual who does it month after month and maxes out their credit cards and only pays the minimum each month.

They have begun to dig themselves into a black hole for they owe more than they can possibly pay off. According to the average credit card debt is almost $16,000, but according to a report from Transunion it’s around $5000. There is much confusion about exactly how much debt consumers are carrying month to month. So it is hard to get an exact handle on the amount. But whatever it is it is too much.

And students graduating from college have an average debt load of almost $3,000. Not student loans but actual credit card debt. And most of these individuals are only making the minimum payments each month so it will take a very long time to pay off that debt.

If we take an example of $3,000 and only pay off the minimum (four percent) each month, it will take 11 years to pay off the balance and will cost $1,715 in interest. That’s more than half the original debt. I used the calculator at!

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And those late fees? How many of you are guilty of being late and having no excuse what so ever. Do whatever it takes to remind yourself to pay that bill on time. And taking a cash advance from your credit card company is going to be expensive. Rates start at 20% and go up.

Credit cards are wonderful financial tools, tools that can improve our financial lives and make them easier. But carrying that debt month to month limits what you will be able to do in the future. If you find yourself in over your head with credit card debt you will need to rethink spending habits.

Getting out of debt and paying off the credit card in full every month can save you thousands of dollars over time. Dollars you can use to meet your other goals. But don’t even think about using the equity in your home to pay off the loan. Not prudent!

So even paying just a bit more each month has a huge impact on the balance and, of course, not charging anything else on the card that you can’t afford.

Will Rogers once said “if you find yourself in a hole, quit digging!”


You can hear Dee Lee’s expert financial advice on WBZ NewsRadio 1030 each weekday at 1:55 p.m., 3:55 p.m., and 7:55 p.m.

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