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Tuesday, July 16, 2024   

Dollar Stretcher review of "Credit Card and Debt Management" by Scott Bilker
by Gary Foreman
Gary Foreman is a former Certified Financial Planner (CFP) who currently writes about family finances and edits The Dollar Stretcher website http://www.stretcher.com. You'll find hundreds of FREE articles to stretch your day and your budget!
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Gary Foreman

In his introduction, Mr. Bilker writes "I know where I stand all the time and never wonder whether I will be able to pay the bills on time or if I can afford to use my credit cards. The most rewarding benefit is that I have never been late with any payments, and I only have to devote three hours every two weeks to money matters." In that statement he explains who can benefit most from his book, "Credit Card and Debt Management".

The book reads a little bit like a textbook. Each chapter includes examples and ends with exercises. This is not a quick tour. Rather it is for those who want to take control over their debts. The book is 144 pages including twenty one pages of tables. It is distributed through Press One Publishing and is priced at $19.95.

A chapter entitled "Math and Money" is typical of the book. The author describes an actual incident when his family was buying a car. Most of us have negotiated a price for a car and then had the salesperson tell us the monthly payments would be so many dollars a month. How did they arrive at that monthly payment? Is it correct? In Mr. Bilker's story the dealer just happened to make two errors that amounted to $75 a month in their favor. On a five year loan! In this twenty three page chapter he explains how you can calculate what the monthly payment should be and know if the salesperson is pulling a fast one.

He's created a Credit Offer Infosheet that can help you decide which credit card offers are best given your particular use of credit cards. Sometimes it’s hard to compare one card with upfront charges for transferring balances to another card that has a higher interest rate. The worksheet allows you to compare competing cards to find the one that's best for you.

It includes a loan calculation worksheet. The worksheet is a convenient way to summarize your debts and know how much interest you're paying as well as when you'll have the debt paid off. There's also a Payment Schedule that allows you to understand your income and expenses. Once that's completed you'll have a better idea of how much money is available for paying off debts.

Most of us shop and compare prices before buying a TV or other major purchases. The author rightly points out that you need to consider your financing options, too. Often you can save quite a bit just by selecting the right payment method. The time you spend making that choice can be very well rewarded.

Although he spends a little time on income and expenses, this is not a budgeting book. It's about paying off and managing debt. "Credit Solutions" is a chapter that includes three ways to save money on interest charges. He also points out some pitfalls that can accompany cash advances made with credit cards.

If you struggle with math, don't give up. This book could be a real help. The author breaks complicated financial issues into simple add, subtract and look it up on a table operations. But you will need some persistence to apply the techniques to your finances.

Mr. Bilker and I don't agree on everything. He's more willing to manage debt than I am and indicates a willingness to utilize debt on an ongoing basis. I'm old fashioned and believe that you manage debt with an eye toward paying it off for good. But in any case, if you have debts today, you do need to manage them. And this book can help you accomplish that goal.



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