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New ‘Roseanne,’ old card debt. Here’s how to erase yours

John Egan

Roseanne Barr and her fictional family are back on TV after a two-decade hiatus. Of course, the Conners have grown older, but one thing hasn’t changed at all: Roseanne and the clan are still coping with credit card debt.

It’s been 21 years since the first “Roseanne” ended its nine-season run. ABC’s resurrection of the iconic sitcom, which hilariously chronicles the ups and downs of a blue-collar family in Illinois, debuted March 27. (FYI: I am kicking myself for missing the first episode of the “Roseanne” revival.)

Unfortunately, time doesn’t seem to have erased the Conners’ monetary woes, including their credit card bills. Fortunately, their continuing struggles offer some lessons for all of us.

But first, let’s look at the credit card references in the premiere.

Credit card points? We get threats

In its review of the “Roseanne” revival’s premiere, The Guardian newspaper noted that Dan and Roseanne Conner are “still juggling credit cards to make ends meet.”

“Do you get points on your credit card?” only son D.J. Conner asks his mom.

“We get threats. Is that the same thing?” Roseanne fires back.

Roseanne isn’t the only Conner grappling with credit card debt, though.

As described by The Los Angeles Times, eldest daughter Becky Conner-Healey “is trying to broker a deal as a surrogate mother (and lying about her age to do it) in order to pay off her credit cards and maybe put a down payment on a house that won’t be even as nice as her parents’.”

The potential payday for Becky’s surrogacy: $50,000.

Three credit lessons from “Roseanne”

While Roseanne, Dan, Becky and the other Conners are merely TV characters, their struggles supply some real-world insights. Here are three takeaways.

1. If you’re getting threats from credit card companies, as Roseanne hinted, then it’s probably time to reach out for help.

The word “threats” tells me that either the credit card companies or, worse yet, collection agencies are hounding Roseanne and Dan (and probably Becky, too.)

No one wants to be pestered by credit card companies or collection agencies. So, if you’re being bugged about overdue bills:

You shouldn’t ignore the calls.
Answer the phone and deal head-on with the debt. Things are only going to get worse if you delay the inevitable.

You should seek assistance with your bills.
You can either work out payment arrangements with your credit card companies or contact a nonprofit credit-counseling agency to put your finances back on track. You’ll rest easier at night if you head down one of these two paths.

2. You need to stop worrying about the points.

Once your credit card debt has become a big burden, the last thing you should concern yourself with is earning points, miles or cash back rewards. Your sole focus should be on scaling back the debt. Points don’t matter at this point.

3. There are easier ways to pay off your credit cards than becoming a surrogate.

Desperation often prompts us to take extraordinary actions. Turning to surrogacy to wipe out credit card debt is one of those actions.

A five-step action plan to erase your credit card debt

Steps to consider to pay off your card debt other than surrogacy include:

1. Find a way to generate more income.

Perhaps you can transform a hobby like knitting or woodworking into a moneymaker by selling your creations online. Or maybe you can get a second job, at least temporarily.

2. Cut your expenses.

Are you really using that $20-a-month gym membership? Can you give up cable TV? Are you eating out too often? Pretty much anyone can come up with household costs to slash.

3. Take out a debt consolidation loan.

Chances are you won’t qualify for a debt consolidation loan if you’re drowning in credit card debt. But if the debt hasn’t reached a critical level yet, a loan that combines your debts and lowers the overall APR (annual percentage rate) can be a smart option.

4. Make more than one credit card payment per month.

Regardless of whether you start with the card that has the highest balance or the highest APR, bumping up the number of monthly payments will enable you to reduce your debt more quickly and decrease the amount of interest you’re paying.

5. Stop using your credit cards.

This tip is obvious, but so many people who are attempting to dig out of credit card debt keep making purchases with their cards. This merely digs a bigger financial hole. Put away the credit cards, and switch to your debit card or, better yet, cash.

While we can chuckle at the Conners’ antics, credit card debt is not funny. Too much credit card debt will almost certainly bring down your credit score, make it more difficult to buy a house or a car, cause plenty of anxiety and sap joy from your life.

Roseanne and her made-for-TV family can laugh off credit card debt. Those of us in the real world must take it seriously.

See related: 8 things you must know about credit card debt

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