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Cash is under threat across our planet.
Card schemes hate cash, as they can only wring profit from their debt-creating plastic products.
Visa and MasterCard have both made clear that cash is their enemy. Since 90% of all purchases on our planet are made using cash, this enemy of the card schemes must be the trusty friend of humanity.
Cash-is-Cool is working tirelessly to defend cash from predatory card schemes.
Channel 4's Stand Up For The Week regular Andi Osho gives us the lowdown on credit card disasters and how to beat 'Blue Monday'…
According to some boff at the Centre of Life Long Learning (sounds like a posh name for a maximum security prison), the 24th of January or 'Blue Monday' is the most depressing day of 2011 (as is the fourth Monday in January of every year, apparently). This is based on time elapsed since Christmas, failed resolutions and of course the much-dreaded Christmas credit card bill.
When it comes to Christmas spending, I'm a disaster area. You know you're in trouble when you hit the shops thinking, 'But what about a nice gift for me?' Some years I've spent more on myself than I have on family and friends. Well, in the words of celebrity pugilist, Cheryl Cole, 'Aaam Werth Ut'.
Typically, the Christmas spree is absorbed by my credit cards which have become a permanent fixture in our financial lives. I remember when I got my first one. It arrived in a beautiful, white, windowed envelope and I'm pretty sure, as I opened it, I heard angels.
I hit the shops - hard, but within months I'd reached my credit limit. Luckily, my very responsible bank sent me another card. I felt obliged to max this one out too and before long I had £1500 worth of debt on them. See, no matter what advice you get or warnings you read in magazines or online, the first time you get a credit card, you can't help but think 'Wohooo! Free wonga!'
One of my biggest mistakes was making cash withdrawals on my card. This incurs the highest interest rates (eclipsed only by the few frankly immoral companies offering short term loans at a whopping 2000%APR - and that's not a typo. If you borrowed £1 from one of these sharks after a year you'd owe them two grand).
Withdrawing cash on credit cards nowadays is largely unnecessary because most establishments accept card payments. When I say establishments, I mean pubs really because that's pretty much where I spent most of my time and wages back then. Tipples, Taxis and Topshop. What more does a girl need?
So there I was with two maxed out credit cards, rapidly slipping further and further into my overdraft to the point where I considered it a win if my balance was £0 post-payday. Even being in credit a few pence was a small financial victory.
I decided that drastic action was required. I took a loan. Even though I had the financial discipline of Grace Mugabe, the bank happily lent me £2,000 and I cleared my debts. I know the mathematicians among you are thinking, '£2000? But you only owned £1500'. I know, I know. But it was almost Christmas and well... you know how I like a treat. Surprise, surprise, within a few months, not only was I repaying a loan but once again I'd maxed out the cards.
I'd gotten myself into a something of a 'pickle', no doubt. I took a long, hard look at what I was doing. I realised that for all the great nights out, fab meals and super clothes (To'Sho' was wicked back in the day), I didn't really have anything to show for the money I'd earned and that if I carried on this way, I'd get myself into serious trouble.
I sat down and totted up my bills (which by now included a couple of store cards for good measure). It was worse than I'd been pretending but I saw that paying the debt off was do-able if I was willing to make a few sacrifices.
Did I really need to spend £40 on make up every month? Or take taxis three times a week when London had laid on this useful tube service thingy or go clothes shopping as much as I did? 'Yes!' My credit cards yelled. Luckily I didn't listen and eventually over a couple of years (where occasionally I fell off the austerity wagon) I got myself out of debt.
It's tempting to pile into the credit because it's relatively easy to get. Have a look in your purse or wallet right now. If there are more receipts than cash, it might be time to take stock. Either way, don't let Blue Monday get you down. Why not do something cheap and cheerful, like a night in with friends, ice skating with a special someone (call it a Valentine's Day warm up) or go shopping at Primark? (Actually don't. Things are never that bad).
Content produced by Sabotage Times
Thursday, 13th January 2011