This column is dedicated to a simple concept; we don't always stop to think before we act and the consequences can be disastrous. Or they can simply be bad.
I was in an automobile accident two years ago where the results weren't good even though I was completely, 100% in the right. My eight day old car was declared a total wreck and I walked away from the accident. For two years I have tried to figure out what I could have done differently to avoid the collision and the only answer I can come up with would be to not have been on my cell phone because I may have been more aware of impending disaster coming from the south. On the other hand the police report showed that I probably may have saved some lives as a mother and baby were in line to be hit by the speeding truck, who ran the red light, and their older car wouldn't have had the protection mine had. I only bring all of this up because I believe we sometimes do our best thinking after the event with the consequences instead of before when we can still change the outcome.
Do you realize why credit cards were initially invented? To give immediate credit for the short term so we wouldn't have to carry a large amount of cash around or we could do or get something that we didn't have the money for but would have said money by the end of the month. That was it! The Federal Reserve has the same thing for its member banks: short term loans for banks who need the money to fulfill a need for less than a month. They can get the money from the Federal Reserve Bank or from another member bank and the rates they pay are high, 5.25%. (Federal Funds Rate and the Re discount Rate). Banks can currently get two year money at 4.95% so you wouldn't expect them to keep the short term funds for two years. That would be a poor economic decision.
Why do you finance capital good purchases, trips, dinners, clothing, etc. with credit cards at rates I dare say are probably double what you think they are? I know you had planned to pay them off but "things happen". The answer is they can't happen if you have a house with equity. Not unless you haven't thought about the consequences. That $7.50 purchase for fancy coffee and a muffin could cost $10 if you wait a year to pay it off; $12.50 if it takes two years and double, $15, if it takes three years. And the bad part of this is it does happen to more people than you could imagine.
How's your credit? Have you missed some payments, punished a vendor for something they did to you that you won't pay for (and later find out you are punishing yourself) or just ran out of money before you ran out of bills and all of this has ruined your credit? Not if you have a house with equity. Can't happen unless you want it to.
Roger Schlesinger's Mortgage Minute is heard on hundreds of radio stations and daily on the Hugh Hewitt radio show and Michael Medved shows. Roger interacts with his hosts and explores the complicated financial markets in order to enlighten his listeners and direct them along their own unique road to financial freedom.
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