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Real Stories - Chapter 3

Amanda McCormick was in debt $30,000 on just a few credit cards. Similar to a very expensive loan, her debt could have been avoided if she followed one simple rule. If you can’t pay it off right now - buy it later.

So, make sure you choose credit cards with low interest rates and no annual fees. Also, if you do get into trouble, consumer credit counselors can help repair your damaged credit score - which measures the history of your credit transactions. A bad score can make it difficult and expensive to get loans, so make sure to check your score at least once a year.

Amanda McCormick

Amanda McCormick is a senior at Florida State and a server at a local restaurant. She used credit cards to help pay for her living expenses, which spiraled into $30,000 of debt.  Now, she’s working with a consumer credit counselor to get back on track.

What the Experts Say

"For the big things, put it on the credit card—but you’d better be able to pay it off that next month."

Michelle Singletary, The Washington Post


"Even if you pay just $10 more than the minimum monthly payment, you could significantly reduce the number of years you're paying and the amount of interest you're paying back."

Beth Kobliner, Financial Author


"Your credit score literally sets the interest rate on any money that you borrow."


"One of the best things that you can do is to check that credit report every year for the rest of your life."

Peter Bielagus, Financial Expert

Did you know?

  • 66% of college students have at least one credit card.
  • College graduates have an average credit card debt of $2,600.
  • Average annual tuition at a private college is $25,000.
  • 63% of college students receive financial aid.

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Tools & Resources

Expert Advice: Controlling Credit

Tips for controlling debt and credit scores.

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Do You Have a Debt Problem?

Take the Your Money Counts® quiz to see if you have a problem with credit.

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Credit Card Payoff Calculator

Use the Credit Card Payoff Calculator to see what it will take to payoff your credit card balance.

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Choosing the Right Credit Card

Learn everything you need to know about choosing the right credit card for right now.

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What is Your Credit Card IQ?

Find out how many details you know about those little, handy pieces of plastic.

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What Does Your Credit Score Mean?

Learn the basics about your credit score.

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Classroom Ideas: Chapter 3

Find fun activities to help your students to learn about credit cards, debit accounts, student loans, and more.

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Words to Know: Chapter 3

Learn how to talk dollars and cents with this list of financial terms.

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Young Money Magazine: Special Edition Guide from Your Life, Your Money

Do not spend more than you earn. It's just that simple. Get smart and avoid debt with some helpful tips.

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Take Action

Now is the time to take charge of your personal finances. Here are four easy ways to control your credit and debt:

  1. Choose and use your credit card wisely.
  2. Always pay your bills off in full each month.
  3. Check your credit report regularly.
  4. Research and understand student loan options.