What place do credit cards have in a responsible financial plan?
It can be hard to think about moving into a smaller home, but the reality is if you move to a smaller home and then get out of debt, you can quit worrying so much and know that you have money in your pocket to go out on Friday nights. That's a trade-off that could be happier for your life in the long run.
They have a place in an emergency. The first line of defense in an emergency should always be an emergency fund, but if you're in an emergency and you don't have anything in the bank account, credit cards are a lousy line of defense, but they are a line of defense when you need one. A better line of defense might be a second job. Can you work Saturdays at The Home Depot? Because with credit cards, it can feel like phantom money. It is so easy to get into debt and so hard to get out.
Still, those zero-percent financing offers can be pretty enticing. I can enjoy this 50-inch TV for a full year without paying a dime!
I know (laughs), and I've also got some swampland in Florida for you! Look, if you are in an emergency or you're already carrying credit card debt and you're trying to get it paid down, absolutely the smartest place to put it is on a low-interest or zero-interest card. That doesn't mean it's a good idea to carry debt! Debt is borrowing against your future, whether it's zero percent or 20 percent; you should never do that for luxury items or something that is not essential, ever.
And those zero-percent offers have pages and pages of fine print, all designed to trap you and trip you up. They paid a brilliant MBA a lot of money to entice you into spending money you shouldn't spend and suck you into something that they think they're still going to make money on. You're playing against the house in Vegas. Yeah, someone might win sometime, but the house always wins in the end.
The auto industry has used zero-percent financing effectively as well. And an automobile is a must-have, right?
A car is a must-have; a new car you can't really afford is not a must-have. You need four wheels and a couple of doors that get you where you need to go. If you need a car, buy used. All the economists show you're far better off buying used. And don't lease. Drive it till the wheels fall off.