Dave Says

Friday, June 6, 2008 at 1:59am

Dear Dave,

Even though we make $70,000 a year, my husband got talked into a department store credit card just to get a discount. He made one purchase of $25, and afterwards he forgot all about the card because he’d never had one before.

They wrote down the wrong address on the application, and nine months later we found it had been turned over to a collections agency. With late charges the total due is $285. What do we do?

— Vicki

Dear Vicki,

Here’s what you’re going to do. You’re going to write a check for $285 today, and in the space marked “for” you write “dumb behavior by husband.”

I’m sorry, but you guys are completely liable for this. And besides, it would cost about $3,000 worth of your time to get these bozos to listen to reason and go away.

The next time you go into one these places and a clerk starts jumping up and down about discounts when you use their credit card, you need to tell them to go jump in the lake!

Pay the bill, close the account and cut up the plastic. This is a perfect example of why I always tell people to stay away from credit cards.

— Dave

Dear Dave,

I’m one of five sisters, and our parents’ 50th wedding anniversary is just around the corner. My two oldest sisters made plans for a party without consulting the rest of us. Now, they want everyone to chip in $1,000 to help pay for things.

I’m trying hard to get out of debt, and I just don’t have that kind of money right now. How can I be fair about this?

— Anonymous

Dear Anonymous,

Wow, a $5,000 party is pretty big stuff! Since you weren’t asked about this ahead of time and had no say in anything, FAIR would be for you not to pay a dime!

That kind of planning without consulting the people involved and helping pay for the event is way out of line.

Don’t let your big sisters lay a guilt trip on you, either. This has nothing to do with how much you love your parents. It has everything to do with communication and consideration, or in this case, a lack of these things on their part.

Just let them know — in a firm but loving way — what your situation is right now. Tell them you’d be happy to chip in what you can, but it won’t be anything close to $1,000. And tell them next time to check with their little sisters before hatching up an expensive plan like this!

– Dave

Dear Dave,

I’ve been listening to you for a while, and I’m finally ready to cut up my credit cards. Should I contact these companies and close the accounts formally, or will they just shut them down due to lack of use?

—Rita

Dear Rita,

Credit card companies won’t close an account due to a lack of use on the holder’s part. You need to talk to these people personally, tell them to close the accounts and then YOU need to go back later and make sure they’re closed.

Lots of credit card companies are bad about not following through on this kind of thing. They want the accounts to stay open so they have a chance to keep taking your money.

You don’t want those accounts left open, Rita. There’s a lot of identity theft and other misuses of information going on in the world today. Always be as careful as possible with your money AND your information.

— Dave

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Filed under: City Business
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By: RTungsten on 12/31/69 at 7:00

Dear Rita, Don't listen to ole' Dave on this one. I would keep at least 1 card, perferrably your oldest one, open to maintain your FICO score.

By: NewYorker1 on 12/31/69 at 7:00

I agree with RTungsten. Keep at least one credit card. I have friends and family members that cut up all their credit cards without an emergency fund and when an emergency came up, there they were with no way of paying for the emergency. So, guess who they called for the money. Yes, me and I have not received my money back in any of the cases and it has almost destroyed our relationship because I no longer trust them. Think smart sweety. Reality is reality and Dave has a lot of money and it's easy for him to say cut up all your credit cards, but if you don't have a really good emergency fund saved up, then I would highly recommend keeping at least one credit card.

By: twalant on 12/31/69 at 7:00

Dear Rita, Listen to everything Dave says and you will have a large enough emergency fund to cover the bogus reason some people use to hang on to a credit card.I did this jumping in feet first five years ago and have never regretted it one bit! And I have never had a problem with an "emergency" or buying a car or house.

By: OneTimer on 12/31/69 at 7:00

And why should we listen to you, RTungsten? I think someone who deals with this all day, every day should be listened to instead.

By: courier37027 on 12/31/69 at 7:00

Got to side with twalant and One Timer on this issue. House is paid off, emergency fund is fully six months' expenses stocked, retirement contributions are to the max. I have not had a mortgage payment nor car note since 1994. I send credit card offers back with a "not intersted, please remove name" request. Finally the credit card companies gave up.