Credit Cards
Here is an interesting observation in traveling through airports in this country. The number of people charging everything from overpriced airport merchandise to hamburgers on their credit cards is amazing. So this week we’re going to talk about the short-term debt perspective.

Benchmark Yourself
Consumer debt buildup, as I mentioned in my last column, is keeping our economy in choppy waters. If you think you have problems with too much farm debt, then check out the latest in debt levels of the American Public.

  • 14.3% of take-home pay is used for consumer debt payments, the highest level since 1986.

  • Credit card debt delinquencies are about 5%, up from 3.3% in 1998. Thank goodness for home equity loans.

  • Write-offs on credit card debt are 6.7%, higher than during the 1990-91 recession.

  • Mortgage delinquencies are up to 4.5% or almost one in twenty loans.

Credit Card Junkie
How do you know if you are a credit card junkie?

If your balance exceeds 25% of net income (and you should take the average of three years of income) then you’re a credit card junkie.

If your limits on all your cards add up to or exceed 100% of your three-year average of net income, then you’re a credit card junkie.

What if you have no net income? You’re probably maxed out on your cards. Are you maxed out? Then you’re a credit card junkie.

And what about home shopping on TV or the Internet? Now I know you have to use a credit card to make a purchase when using these services. And there is nothing wrong with buying this way.

My assistant, Barbzilla (I know I still have to explain the name someday) bought her mattress and spring through home shopping. I can just hear her husband saying, "You bought what from whom? How did it get here?"

If you use your credit card for these types of services more than three to five times a week, you’re a credit card junkie.

Sports Perspective
The preseason rankings are starting to come out. Where are your favorite college teams ranked? Our Hokies would have been in the top three if our newfound millionaire, Michael Vick, had not signed with the Atlanta Falcons. Oh well!

Next week – I went home but I’m going to make you wait one more week on that!

Final Note
Monsoon rains in some parts of the country. Head for high ground. Keep writing.

My e-mail address is: sullylab@vt.edu

Editors' note: Dave Kohl, Soybean Digest Trends Editor, is an ag economist at Virginia Tech. He currently is on sabbatical and working with the Royal Bank of Canada.

To see Dave Kohl's previous road warrior adventures click here

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