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Emily Starbuck Crone

Emily's list: Trim your debt and fat edition

I see two parallel movements, and I like both: We're trimming the fat from both our diets and our finances.

First, finances. There has been a great emphasis on establishing good financial health for individuals, and in February, the Credit CARD Act of 2009 went into effect.

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Among many other things, the regulations require credit card issuers to give their cardholders a 45-day notice of any major changes to the terms of agreement. Over-the-limit fees were restricted. Monthly credit card bills must indicate how long it will take to pay off the balance if only the minimum payment is made. Those under 21 years old can't open a credit card without having evidence of enough income or a co-signer. President Obama also pushed for Wall Street reforms that will further protect consumers. All these measures should help Americans shed debt.

Meanwhile, awareness has increased about the relationship between the food we eat and our physical health. The documentary "Supersize Me" caused a huge stir a few years ago. More recently, "Fast Food Nation" and "Food Inc." have horrified many more consumers. Some states are beginning to require fast food companies to post nutrition facts in obvious places in the stores. The First Lady is leading a movement to end childhood obesity. Today, I just learned about another improvement. This week, FOX News announced that San Francisco's Board of Supervisors has approved an ordinance that will ban toys from fast food meals for kids. If the foods do not meet nutritional guidelines, such as having under 600 calories and less than 640 milligrams of sodium, the meals can't come with toys, which supporters think are driving child obesity. Santa Clara County in California has already approved a similar measure. While fast food may be the most affordable in the short-term, it can be devastating in the long-term in medical bills.

I think it's interesting and exciting that consumers are becoming more empowered and that governments are trying to help consumers keep their wallets and health in check. Sometimes consumers need a little help protecting themselves. What do you think? Is the government going too far?

Read on for my roundup of my top 10 favorite credit- and debt-related blog posts from the past week.

1. While it may not be advisable, it's possible. My Two Dollars explains how and why he bought a car with a credit card.

2. Good Financial Cents reveals 10 common financial mistakes college students make that land them in debt.

3. Moolanomy offers eight reasons why it may be smarter to use a credit card instead of a debit card.

4. Desperation can lead to bad decisions. Wealth Pilgrim gives five tips to keep you safe when you need to borrow money.

5. Six Figures and Broke explains why paying off debt is always a good thing regardless of how or why you got there in the first place.

6. Dough Roller discusses yet another celebrity credit card -- a new prepaid credit card offered by the Kardashian sisters.

7. Thanksgiving is just around the corner and before you know it, the winter holidays will be here. No need to rack up tons of credit card debt. PT Money lists 25 great gift ideas that come in under $25.

8. Free From Broke offers advice on how you can improve your credit score without having to use a credit card.

9. Fire Finance discusses 15 things that can cause the failure of early retirement, including carrying a credit card balance.

10. Frugal Dad opines on our debt-driven society and helps readers learn how to stop being a slave to debt and banks.

3 Comment(s)

Michelle said:

My two cents to this article is why is the goverment worring so much about whether McDonalds puts toys in happy meals when our country is in so much debt? Shouldn't as parents we worry about what our children eat and why. How many 4 year olds walk into McDonalds and order a happy meal all by themselves? I am glad the goverment has passed credit card laws to protect the consumers from getting reamed. They should stick to items like that.


Craig said:

Thanks for stating what the happy meal ban was all about. Seems to make sense to me. Reminds of the 80's when they wanted to ban cartoons that were just promotions for the toys they represented.


Ken - Cambio de Cheques said:

the goverment worring so much about whether McDonalds because the goverment is interested in get people more fat and sick.

Because sick people is better for goverment finances.

Thanks.

Ken


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