Overview | Activities
Introductory Activities- Ask yourself hard but important questions.
1. What is your credit score? Your credit-worthiness is only ONE factor that impacts the decisions lenders or creditors make when you're applying for loans or new credit cards. One point that PBS presenter, best-selling author and financial advisor Suze Orman often makes is that you are NOT your credit score! Use a web-based tool to estimate your credit score. To begin, gather your bills and think about your credit history as you answer the questions after logging onto the FICO Score Estimator at: http://www.bankrate.com/brm/fico/calc.asp. The online tool will generate an approximate credit score that will help you begin to think more wisely about how you are using credit.
2. Who are your creditors? Take an inventory of your creditors and try to answer the question "do they have correct financial representations of you?" To get your free annual credit report, log onto https://www.annualcreditreport.com/cra/index.jsp or Experian's consumer services site http://www.experian.com/reportaccess/. You can also call 1 (866) 200-6020 to initiate the process by phone. If you have been denied credit, you can request a credit report from any or all of the reporting agencies that have influenced a lender's decision to deny credit to you. If you obtain a report via a Web site, a personal identification verification process helps to safeguard you from identity theft and fraud. Visit www.ftc.gov/credit to get credit information in Spanish.
Learning Activities- Knowledge is power! TV411 is here.
1. Complete the three learning activities on the TV411 companion Web site under "Using Credit Cards Wisely" at: http://www.tv411.org/lessons/cfm/math.cfm?str=math&num=21&act=1. As you complete the activities you will learn the following:
- Part I: Credit card language
Learn the "lingo" of the credit world. Key terms are defined and explained.
- Part II: Managing credit card debt
Perform calculations using data supplied on the site. Compare those results with your own credit card debt calculations.
- Part III: The Good, the bad and the ugly
Take this true and false quiz to check your understanding of important credit principles.
Culminating Activities- Put the principles into practice.
1. Create a budget for yourself using the BLANK DEBT BUSTING BUDGET [.doc] provided in this lesson. Use the Sample Debt Busting Budget [.doc] as a guide to develop your own budget from the bills you gathered at the beginning of the lesson.
- The Best Rate Credit Cards
Did you know that you don't have to settle for the credit cards offered to you in unsolicited mailings or promotional application drives? Find the best credit card rate and apply for it, especially if your FICO Score is in the mid to high 700s. As long as you are conscientious about how you use credit, credit cards can be used to help build a credit history that a mortgage lender, insurance agents and employers may use to judge the kind of person you are. Be smart!
- Minimum Payment Calculator
Use the calculator to forecast the best ways of getting out of debt faster. Most of your credit card bills have calculated the minimum monthly payments. Challenge yourself to pay more than just the minimum. Enter different amounts into the "fixed payment" section to learn about how increasing your payment each month can make a difference in your debt repayment period and the amount of interest you will owe.
- The legislation, Senate Bill: S.256 "The Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005," is currently one of the "hottest topics" on Capitol Hill. Read the article, "Senate Nears Ok on Tougher Bankruptcy Bill." The author, Marcy Gordon of The Associated Press, gives a broad overview of the bill being debated and provides a historical context for its passing. Visit the Library of Congress Bill online search tool at http://thomas.loc.gov/ to learn more about this legislation. There are three interesting components present in this bill: an income-based formula for determining reasonable liability for debt, consumer-paid credit counseling and serious legal repercussions for those seeking to settle their debts through bankruptcy. When there is seemingly no other choice to avoid financial ruin, many consumers turn to bankruptcy court. Be aware of the laws governing this option so that you can be an advocate for yourself or someone you know.
- Write a letter to your Congressmen or Senators and let them know your position on this legislation. Watch the LEARN TO READ ITV program on "letter writing," airing on Thirteen/WNET for important tips on how to write clearly and purposefully.