How to Avoid a Credit Card Charge-Off

The simplest way to avoid a credit card charge-off is to learn and understand the credit card system. Here are some tips:

Sending Credit Card Payments Through The Mail:

Some credit card companies actually require you to use their own pre-printed envelopes, but even if they do not, it is a good idea to do so in the interest of more efficient processing of your payment. Make sure you have included the billing coupon and have written clearly the amount that you are paying. Include your check, also written legibly, and remember to write your account number on the check.
When Ronald Reagan was running for President, he was asked what he was going to do to make the post office more efficient, to which he responded that he would start mailing workers workers their paychecks. Allow ample time when you send your check to the credit card company.

Change Your Credit Card Due Date Something That Is Convenient For You:

Many people find that the greatest number of their bills, such as their mortgage or car payment, are due at the first of the month. If these places a burden on your ability to pay your credit card bill that may also be due at the first of the month, a simple way to avoid this problem is to just ask your card issuer to change the due date for your monthly payment. There is no harm in the asking, and many card issuers offer this ability to change the due date of your bill as an option. One important thing to remember, though, is that it may take a couple of billing cycles before this date change is fully implemented. It is important to make sure that your bill is paid promptly when due until your change of due date becomes effective. Otherwise, you could find yourself on the wrong side of a late fee.

About Late Fees:

In the classic television detective series Columbo, which starred Peter Falk, Lieutenant Columbo always appeared to be distracted and disorganized, but in reality he was extremely focused and observant. One common scene that brought delight to fans of the show was when Columbo left a room in which he had been speaking to the murderer. He kept turning around and starting question after question with, "Oh, just one more thing …" Then he trapped the criminal. Well, the credit card companies are not Lieutenant Columbo and we consumers are certainly not murderers, but when it comes to trapping us in the fine print of their credit card agreements, it always looks like there is "just one more thing."

Make Your Credit Card Payment On or Before The Due Date:

Your monthly payment is due on whatever date of the month it says on your credit card bill. If your payment is late, the fine print of your card agreement provides for the right of the credit card company to assess a late fee, which can be as much as $ 35 for each late payment. In the past, some credit card companiesave their customers five or even ten days of grace after the due date before assessing a penalty, but that is not the situation any longer. So you send your payment with sufficient time to arrive at the card company on your bill's due date.

But, just one more thing: Some credit card companies deem your payment late if it is processed later than 1:00 pm on the day of your due date. Some of these companies do not receive and process mail until after 1:00 pm; Therefore, the real date by which your monthly payment must be received is a day earlier than the date indicated on your contract. So you need to make sure your payment gets there three days ahead of the due date. Another Note: If the envelope contains a staple, a paper clip, or a note from you, the fine print of the contract specifics that there may be a delay of up to five days in posting your payment. This may cause a late payment to be assessed on a payment that arrived at the card company prior to the due date of the bill. I'll bet Lieutenant Columbo read the fine print before sending in his payment.

Make Your Credit Card Payments On-Line:

The most efficient way to make credit card payments is to make the payment on-line if the company offers that service. You can specify the amount you want to pay, which account you want it deducted out of, and specify the date you want the payment made. By paying your cards this way, you can set the payment to be made exactly on the due date so the credit card company is not getting your money any earlier than the due date and you have the peace of mind knowing you will never be late On your payment. Just be sure to set this up at least 3 days before the payment is due, otherwise there might not be enough time to process the payment in time.

Avoid Credit Card Interest Rate Hikes:

Another problem with late payments is that they can also trigger penal interest rates as high as 29%; So, for example, instead of the 10% interest rate your card may carry, your rate will now be jacked up to 29% effective immediately. In fact, even if you are timely in your payment, credit card companies generally reserve the right to raise your rate to a penalty rate if you are late with any other payment to any of your creditors, whatsoever they may be. Just read the fine print.

Can not Make Your Credit Card Payment?

If you're struggling with making your monthly payments, before you're ever late on a payment, CALL YOUR CREDIT CARD COMPANY! Most companies will come up with a reduced payment plan if you're experiencing a hardship. You'll want to do this as soon as you determine that you can not make your payment, before the due date. You'll want to negotiate a payment that you can afford with your credit, then send that payment in on or before the due date so it does not affect your credit.

You'll want to be sure to get this agreement in writing and be sure to negotiate that this reduced payment WILL NOT be reported as a late payment on your credit report. Sometimes creditors will agree to a reduced payment, but they'll go ahead and report it as being 30 days late because it's less than what was contractually agreed to. If you get a letter from the credit card company agreeing to the reduced payment, along with a statement from the company that they will not report you as being late to the credit bureaus, you'll have the proof you need to send into the credit Bureaus if they do not hold up to their end of the bargain. This happens more often than not, so make sure you protect yourself.

"Settling" Your Credit Card Balance For Less Than The Full Amount:

"Settling" a credit card account basically means that you're paying less that the full balance. This technique is usually used if the account has already been charged off and can only be done if you have the money to pay them in full. If you're going to try this, you'll want to try to negotiate a "Pay for Deletion", which basically means that whatever amount the two of you agree to settle the account for; The credit card company is also agreeing to remove the account from your credit report. By doing this, the charge-off and late payments will no longer negatively affect your credit score.

Evaluating Credit Card Offers: Essential Terms You Must Understand

Credit card offers, they're everywhere! They appear in your mailbox. They pop up while you're surfing the Internet. They're in slick brochures next to the cash register or gas pump. They're in full-page ads in the Sunday papers.

If you need a new credit card, how do you choose? You should evaluate each offer carefully, and to do that you must understand these essential terms.

Annual Percentage Rate (APR) :

The interest rate charged on your account balance. (But see "Balance Calculation Methods," because the rules for computing interest from your balance and your APR can vary.) Your statement will typically show the APR and a monthly and / or daily rate based on the APR that's actually used to calculate your Monthly interest. There may be several APRs applicable to different portions of your balance, for example an introductory rate, a regular purchase rate, and a regular cash advance rate.

A fixed APR is set by the credit card company, which can generally change it with as little as 15 days advance notice, especially if you run afoul of any of the "gotchas" in the terms. These "gotchas" are often very consumer-unfriendly. For example, many companies these days reserve the right to raise your rate if you've been late on a payment to another, unrelated company.

A variable APR is tied to some widely used economic index, such as the Prime Rate. It may be stated as "prime + x%, currently y%," for example "prime + 7%, currently 13.5%." This means that when the Prime Rate is 6.5%, your APR is 13.5%. When the Prime Rate goes up or down, so does your APR. But beware, because some of the same "gotchas" apply to variable APRs as to fixed APRs. Read the fine print. It may state that if you're late with one payment, your APR will no longer be variable but will rise to an exorbitant fixed rate, usually over 20%.

The penalty APR is the rate to which your APR will immediately be raised when you violate any of the "gotchas" in the terms. This rate is usually at least 50% higher than the regular APR. Again, be sure to read the fine print to see what situations will trigger the penalty APR. You'll often see these: failure to pay this or any other account on time, exceeding your credit limit on this or any other account, excessive credit balances on your accounts in aggregate.

Balance Calculation Methods:

These are important to understand, because your APR is only part of the story when it comes to calculating the interest you'll be charged each month. The other part is how the balance is calculated to which the APR is applied. In any case the balance is multiplied by the daily or monthly interest rate. But the balance calculation is not as straightforward as you might think.

1. Two-Cycle Balance. This is the worst method from a consumer's point of view because it can lead to the highest interest calculations. Unfortunately, it's also becoming the most widely used method. To calculate the balance, add together the average daily balances for the current billing period (sometimes even including new charges) and the previous period. Here's why this is so unfriendly to you. Say you have run a balance for a few months and finally pay it from $ 200 down to zero at the end of May. You think it's safe to use the card in June for a new $ 100 purchase, and if you pay the $ 100 by the end of the June grace period, you will not owe any interest on it. But you're wrong. Since your average daily balance in May was not zero (say it was $ 120), and since you used the card in June, your interest will be calculated on May's average balance again, so even if you pay the whole June purchase in June, you Will still owe additional interest. In other words, you must wait two months, allow the account to cycle once with a zero balance, before it's safe to use it again – "safe" in the sense that you will not incur extra interest if you pay the balance in full By the end of the grace period.

2. Average Daily Balance. This was once the most common calculation method and is still popular. Add the daily balance for each day in the billing cycle, then divide by the number of days in the cycle. Depending on the terms, this may or may not include new charges.

3. Adjusted Balance. This is the best method from a consumer's point of view, but it's rapidly going the way of the dodo. Take the balance at the beginning of the billing cycle, then subtract any payments or other credits recorded during the cycle. Do not include new charges during the cycle. For example, if your beginning balance was $ 1200, and you paid $ 400 during the cycle, the balance to which your monthly rate will be applied is $ 800, regardless of any new charges.

Balance Transfer:

This means that you're charging card X to pay off (all or part of) the balance on card Y. So the balance is, in effect, transferred from card Y to card X. Why would you want to do this? Usually to take advantage of an introductory low interest rate when applying for a new card. Look closely at the terms. Sometimes these introductory rates last only a few months. The best ones are for the life of the balance. You will often have to pay a transaction fee equal to 3% of the balance transferred. Sometimes these fees are capped at $ 75 or so. Be sure to see whether or not the transaction fee excepts what you'll save in interest. If so, do not do it. Sometimes the credit card company will agree to waive the fee, especially on a new account. Do not be afraid to ask.

Cash Advance:

A cash loan charged immediately to your credit card account. Usually there is no grace period for paying off a cash advance, which means you'll be charged interest starting from the day of the loan, even if you pay it in full by the end of the billing cycle. Also this type of charge may have a higher APR than purchases or balance transfers. Check your terms. Note that some kinds of transactions, like buying casino chips or lottery tickets, may be valued as cash advances. This can also apply to writing a purchase check to your own bank account. Be sure to read the fine print.

Credit Limit:

The upper limit on your account balance. Exceeding it may result in penalties. Be very careful if your balance is close to the limit ("maxed out"), because you can exceed it without charging anything new if you fail to pay enough. Remember that just because the company has approved you for a certain limit does not mean you can afford to take on that much debt.

Disclosure Chart:

An important portion of the Terms and Conditions statement. It's a little bit like the Nutrition Statement on a food package because the law dictates what has to be listed here. If you can not stand to read all the fine print, be sure that you read this part.

  1. Fixed APR or APRs after any introductory rate (s) have expired
  2. Rule (s) for calculating variable APR (s) if applicable
  3. Grace period
  4. Annual fee if applicable
  5. Minimum per-cycle finance charge
  6. Additional fees if applicable, such as cash advance fees
  7. Balance calculation method
  8. Late payment and delinquency fees
  9. Over limit fees

Grace Period:

The time, calculated from the account cycle date, during which you can pay the balance in full without having any interest charged. This usually applies only to purchases, and only if you've paid the previous month's balance in full and on time. (Sometimes even that's not enough. See "Two-Cycle Balance" calculation method for an additional "gotcha.")


This can be very misleading. It does not mean the company is guaranteeing to issue you the card in the offer. It just means that they chose you to receive this offer based on some general screening of your credit report. They always reserve the right to deny or alter the offer based on a more detailed examination of your records.

How the Internet Affects Traditional Media

Traditional Publishing, REST IN PEACE

This is the headline that greets you when you land on a web page identified as a memorial to commemorate the decline of Traditional Media. A photograph of a man who seems to be in distress and who's possibly just lost his job companies this headline. If this does not paint a bleak picture, go on to read the 548 headlines that all sing to the same tune as the following:

  • Bad Times: NYT Says Revenue Fell 13.9% Last Month –
  • Men's monthly magazine Arena to cease printing after 22 years –
  • Cosmopolitan UK publisher to cut 100 jobs –

There's even a website entitled Newspaper Death Watch that chronicles all the publishing and newspaper houses that close down. All rather morbid would not you say?

The Deadly Spell

Let's take a quick look at Traditional Media and how the Internet cast it's deadly spell.

Back in the old days, we're talking 500 years ago; Gutenberg revolutionized the printing industry by inventing the printing press. This meant bibles could be produced at a fraction the time it used to. This also mean more copies in a shorter time and the Word of God got further reach in a shorter time. Newspaper houses and Magazine publishers still use a printing press today (well thank you captain obvious) .

Much later, shortly after the advent of electricity, the world was blessed with another few media breakthroughs, rarely radio then a few years later, television. Marketers and Advertising agencies had it all figured out as they devised Integrated Marketing Campaigns with astronomical budgets. Ah, the good old days. Well, much to the dismay of many of these agencies, this media landscape started to change.

Behold! Enter The WWW

At first a website was seen as a cute way to put your company brochure online and on top of that the disastrous dot bomb era created skepticism that labeled the Internet as a bad media and business channel.

Fortunately, since then the Internet has matured. Now, in countries where broadband has achieved high levels of household penetration, the web has become the consumer medium of choice.

Why? Because people can do research, shop online, watch videos and connect with friends all in the comfort of their own homes. People can choose what media they want to consume, where and when they choose too, especially with mobile connectivity. Marketers can no longer dictate what advertising messages people get subjected too.

Social Media, The New Black

Then there is the phenomenon of Social Media. It changed the media landscape forever. Social Media websites have allowed consumers to connect with friends, family, colleges and peers in ways that were never imaginable a few decades ago.

Technology has empowered the consumer to become the prosumer. Prosumers are consumers who produce content like videos, photos and blogs that can be instantly distributed and shared among millions of people via social media platforms. This is also known as user-generated content or UCG.

Here is an interesting bit of trivia about the reach of Traditional Media vs. The Internet and Social Media.

Years it took to reach a market audience of 50 Million:

  • Radio – 38 Years
  • TV – 13 Years
  • The Internet – 4 Years
  • The iPod – 3 Years
  • Facebook – 2 Years

So How Does The Internet Affect Traditional Media?

The Internet has reduced the need for traditional media because it enabled consumers to join social communities within their neighbors, across their countries and internationally. It has empowered them to converse at their leisure, 24/7, with friends.

Considering all that's been said, the demise of Traditional Media can seriously be attributed to the following factors:

  1. Decline in readership: The distribution of free news and information on the web has led to the decline in readership for traditional publications.
  2. Decline in revenues: The decline in readership advertisers advertisers will spend their money elsewhere and this leads to a decline in ad revenue.
  3. Real-time updates: Traditional Media can not compete with immediately updated user-generated content that's immediately available for the world to see.
  4. The rise of UGC websites: People have the freedom of unlimited real time commentary on content while Traditional Media is static and is a one-way communication tool.
  5. Online Audio / Video channels: People can choose what they want to watch and listen, when they want to and where without advertising interrupting their experience.

Simply put. The Internet has revolutionized the way things get done today. It has revolutionized the way we do business, the way we communicate and has broken down the walls of Traditional Media.

A recent example is the decision by Unilever UK to fire Lowe , their Ad agency of 15 years, in favor of crowdsourcing – which means it has thrown the brand creative pitch open to agencies and basically any person who can think of an idea, worldwide. This is done on the Internet of course.

Traditional Media will still be around for a while, but the Internet is getting more and more integrated into our daily lives.

Think about this. You could do without the Mail & Guardian or the MensHealth Mag for quite some time, sometimes live quite happily without it? But you just dare cut that ADSL connection …

Special Education and the Importance of Collaboration

Collaboration means working with an individual or a group of individuals to achieve a common goal. Its importance is most visible in education. Every day, teachers work together with their peers, school counselors, and other staff for the success of each student. And when it comes to special education, collaboration becomes the single most important thing for a teacher.

A teacher for special education has to collaborate with school administrators, general education teachers, school therapists, psychologists, and parents and guardians. Students with mild disability have now been included in regular classroom teaching, according to the provisions of the Individuals with Disabilities Education (IDEA) Act. This has led to general and special education teachers working together, often with the help of the best fun educational apps. The role of the educator in a general classroom, involves teaching the curriculum and assessing and evaluating special children. It’s important that a the educator brings in a set of personal skills to enhance student learning. Skills of both the general teacher and the special educator should come together to help a student.

A special educator has to work closely with the school management. It’s a vital part of the job. Working with the management will help the special teacher follow the necessary laws and procedure, work with individualized education plan (IEP), and make sure that special children are accommodated in the appropriate classroom. It’s always important to forge a strong relationship with these people for ensuring the success of a special student.

Working with parents is a major challenge for all special education teachers. It’s important to make strong and regular contact. It’s a nice idea to allow parents come and volunteer in the classroom, so that both the educator and the parent can help the children. A special child can obviously relate more to a parent. If parents explain the use of the best fun educational apps for kids, it’s likely to be more believable to the children.

Working with school therapists and psychologists is another key collaboration of a special educator. A therapist can inform the educator about the limitations of a special child. He/she may even recommend the best fun educational apps for kids so that special children pick up social skills faster. The educator, on his/her part, can update the therapist on how a child is progressing. The therapist is also responsible for diagnosis of a special child.

The work of the school psychologist is also largely similar. They too test children for disabilities and ensure that the IEP is being properly followed.

Collaboration is an important part of a special educator’s job, regardless of which part of school education he/she is involved with. Whether it’s working with the school administration, other teachers, parents, guardians, counselors, or therapists, a special educator has to work as part of a team for the betterment of special children. The needs of a special child are much different from that of a neuro-typical. Besides, each child is different. The best fun educational apps can keep the child engaged besides imparting important social skills.