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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.
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?
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.
They're the pieces of plastic we love, and love to hate. Get the latest news, tips, research and more from the CreditCards.com staff.
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