Judge starts Credit Abuse Resistance Education to educate young credit card users
Judge John C. Ninfo II founded Credit Abuse Resistance Education (CARE) in response to his courtroom dealings with individuals who suffer under the weight of credit card debt.
CARE sends volunteers from the bankruptcy system, such as judges, trustees and private attorneys, out across the U.S. to speak with young people about developing good financial skills and avoiding debt. Ninfo's group is among the 180 organizations that comprise the JumpStart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy.
To mark financial literacy for youth month, JumpStart holds conferences every April that are designed to share program ideas. Additionally, visits to congressional offices are offered as a means for promoting support for school programs.
In order to get the message across to students regarding the potential pitfalls of misusing credit cards, Judge Ninfo shares true stories from his bankruptcy court in Rochester, N.Y. -- like that of a couple who earned less than $50,000 a year but managed to rack up over $50,000 in credit card debt by going on numerous trips to Disney World simply to keep their children happy.
Judge Ninfo feels that similar accounts reinforce his stance that the absence of financial literacy has reached a crisis stage.
He explains to the students that there are serious consequences to bad credit: lost jobs and promotions, inability to rent an apartment, being turned down for a car loan and getting denied acceptance to graduate school or for a student loan.
Meanwhile, Ninfo says that many parents are likely misusing credit cards themselves, making plastic a "welfare system" for families of low or moderate income.
Although he acknowledges the old-fashioned way his advice may sound, he encourages the use of cash or debit cards when young people make purchases. Judge Ninfo encourages young consumers to avoid credit cards if they cannot pay off the full balance each month, to steer clear of store credit cards, and always pay with cash for things that cost less than $20 as well as for food and beverages.
Confident in this approach, Judge Ninfo lets students know that the best way to manage debt is to simply avoid it.
Published: May 10, 2007
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