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What’s the absolute best free debt advice?



Question: My husband and I read your book [Power Up]. Well, I read it. He stopped halfway, when you wrote, “Learning to live without credit cards is an integral part of financial empowerment.” He says that he could not do it.

We have around $2,000 on the two cards we share. It doesn’t hurts our lifestyle, but it’s annoying to pay all those fees. We’re slowly paying it off, and when we do, I want to take your advice and live like you said, “without laying down that piece of plastic.”

My husband says credit cards can earn you big rewards, and on your website there is a credit card expert who recommends what credit cards to get based on how you can earn those rewards. My husband wants to know, “which is it?”

— Brianna, New York

Howard Dvorkin CPA answers…

I know this sounds like a cop out, but you’re both right.

The simple fact is, the best free debt advice I can give (or paid advice, for that matter) is what I wrote in Power Up

“Those who don’t use credit cards take money much more seriously than credit card users. The act of physically handing over the dollars and cents to a cashier or waitress generates a feeling of loss. That money is gone. When you hand over a credit card…you can worry about the bill later and you may not think about it at all.”

That’s why I advise credit card addicts to go cold turkey. Being addicted to credit cards is no different than any other addiction, and the solution is the same: Don’t tempt yourself.

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To continue the analogy, just because some people are addicted to alcohol doesn’t mean we should return to Prohibition. Our nation supports responsible drinking — and it punishes irresponsible drinking.

I think of credit cards the same way.

If you and you husband pay off your credit card debt soon, Brianna, and you’re confident you won’t run up that debt again — then yes, it’s fine to get a credit card that can do you the most good.

That might be one of the best credit cards out there right now, or the best airline cards. I want to help those in debt to get out, but I also want to encourage those who are out of debt to prosper. Responsibly using a credit card can really rack up the savings — as long as you pay off the balance on time every month.

I hope this explanation helps your husband, because I want him to finish my book!

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