BY MARY HUNT
Dear Mary: Often stores offer 10 to 15 percent discounts if you open accounts. Am I better off taking advantage of these discounts, even though I would cancel the accounts as soon as I paid the bills, or should I just stay with my credit cards that I pay off monthly? — Beverly, e-mail
Dear Beverly: Both opening and closing accounts have negative effects on your credit score. However, this may be a moot point because by the time you read this, the Credit CARD Act will have become effective. The new law says the credit issuer must consider an applicant’s ability to repay the card loan before issuing a new card or increasing the credit limit on an existing account, something that cannot be done on the spot. It is unlikely that stores will continue to issue instant credit as they have in the past. They may be able to verify your credit score with a phone call, but not your income. Department stores are not happy about this new provision in the law.
Dear Mary: I have $7,500 of unsecured debt left to pay off. (I already have paid off about $15,000.) I have a chance to go to Europe this spring, and it will cost $3,500. I would have to take out a loan. Several friends and family members are saying, “You can’t pass up this opportunity. Go!” But I rather would pay down my debt and not incur more. Friends are acting as if I’m crazy. What do you think? — Jeanette C., e-mail
Dear Jeanette: A big “Congratulations!” for paying back so much debt. This is wonderful news. You have done so well; why would you think about purposely falling off the wagon now?
When you said “yes” to so many things that got you into debt, you put yourself into a position in which now you must say “no” to this trip. I guarantee that Europe still will be there once you are out of debt and have saved the money to pay for your vacation with cash. That’s the only way to go. This is not the only opportunity you will have to travel.
Dear Mary: My son spilled candle wax on the carpet, and I am unsure how to remove it. Any suggestions? — Claudia, e-mail
Dear Claudia: You can get the wax out. However, the dye in the wax might be a problem. Cover the wax with ice to get it really hard. Then use a spoon to break and scrape away as much wax as possible. Cover the spot with a clean brown paper bag, and place a clothes iron on it, set on low. This liquefies the wax and lets it transfer to the paper. Use a new paper bag as often as necessary until you get all of the wax. This can take some time. Finally, use clear rubbing alcohol to saturate and blot as much of the remaining wax as possible. If a stain remains, go to http://www.HowToRemoveCarpetStains.com for more information.
Do you have a question for Mary? E-mail her at email@example.com, or write to Everyday Cheapskate, P.O. Box 2135, Paramount, CA 90723. Mary Hunt is the founder of www.DebtProofLiving.com and author of 18 books, including “Can I Pay My Credit Card Bill With a Credit Card?” To find out more about Mary and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
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