People are once again spending – and using plastic to do it — big-time. U.S. consumer credit card debt jumped 11.3% in February, according to the latest data from the Federal Reserve.
Money expert Clark Howard says carrying a lot of debt can put you in a bad position if the American financial system suffers a setback.
“I don’t want you to find yourself in a position, if the economy slows and jobs become more difficult, that you have the anxiety from the debts you have added over the last year,” he says.
This Is the Bill Clark Wants You To Receive via U.S. Mail
Clark recommends that, if you have outstanding debt, make sure you get your credit card bill(s) mailed to you.
“If you turned off paper statements, go turn them back on if you’re running balances,” Clark says.
Clark says people’s behavior is different with paper statements than with e-statements.
“With a paper bill, people will actually look, more likely than not, at their individual charges,” Clark says. “When they get an e-bill, they only look at the balance, the minimum payment due. They don’t actually look at the individual charges they have, because it’s more difficult with an e-bill by far than it is with a paper bill.”
Clark says credit card companies and banks have a vested interest in keeping you in debt. Logically, they would want to minimize the effect — holding an account of much you owe in your hands — that a paper bill would have on you.
You may have gotten correspondence from your credit card company or bank asking you to convert your paper bills into e-statements. This, Clark says, is by design.
“Know that the banks didn’t do that as your friend; they did that as your adversary, conning you to go to e-statements on your credit cards, with consumer behavior being what it is,” he says.
How To Resume Paper Statements With Your Bank
I walked through the process of resuming paper bill delivery on Wells Fargo’s website. Once I logged on to my account, all I had to do was click on Accounts> Manage Delivery Preferences and select the account(s) I wanted to receive paper bills.
Here’s a screenshot of how that looks on Wellsfargo.com:
The online process is similar for many other financial institutions. Here are some instructions for a few major banks.
- Bank of America: Log in to your account online and go to Profile & Settings within Online Banking and select the Paperless settings link.
- Chase: Log in to your account online and choose the Paperless button within an account summary or Account management under the Profile and settings icon in the top right corner of your browser.
- Citi: The bank wants you to call the number on your statement or on the back of your card (1-888-248-4226) and request a paper copy.
If you have a balance on your credit card bill each month, Clark wants you to switch to paper statements if you haven’t already.
“I want you to have that forced behavior when that bill comes in and you open that envelope,” Clark says. “Face the music. Look at each charge. Look at each page. See where the money is going and get it under control.”
Clark acknowledges that it can be very difficult to get out of debt, but he has confidence that you can do it.
“Instead of charging more on those cards, you need to maybe even stop using those cards until you can attack the balances you have and get them out of your life,” he advises.
First, you’ll need to stick to a budget. If you don’t have one, here’s how to create one.
Which bills do you prefer to receive in the mail vs. going paperless? Tell us in our Clark.com Community.