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I'm On A Boat!

I woke up laughing this morning, shaking off a rather interesting dream. My everyday life had apparently intertwined with my upcoming beach vacation and a Saturday Night Live skit.

Joined by my sidekick T-Pain, I was on the biggest yacht my eyes had ever beheld. We were sailing the Pacific, wearing tuxedos, and singing about how awesome it was to be on a boat. Then, out of nowhere, the dream went sour.

Where My Sleeping Reverie Began

In my profession, I work with people on their personal and business finances. The situations often differ greatly, but the strategies of rebuilding credit or improving already-good credit remain similar. I must admit, however, that my mind has wandered this last week.

Thoughts of surfboards and fishing boats, shaved ice and bar-b-ques, and especially beach towels and the warm sun have been filling my head. My wife and I have accumulated quite a few points on our rewards credit cards so we decided to redeem some, joining a group of friends on a trip to Hawaii.

This is the part of my dream where the sun is shining, and I’m overjoyed on the yacht. Unfortunately, T-Pain and I didn’t know to check the boat for structural imperfections. It sprung a leak, and T-Pain, using a few expletives, let me know we were quickly sinking.

Surviving a Sinking Dream Boat

Instead of bailing water, my side-kick screamed about forgetting to pay the bills and proceeded to throw cash at the hole in the boat. When his pockets emptied, he began tossing other possessions overboard. This is the point (yes, it should have been sooner) where I realized I was dreaming, and somehow my mind had tangled a few thoughts into one giant analogy.

Righting the Ship If you found yourself on this proverbial boat, you would want to block the hole and keep it from enlarging. Then, you could focus on bailing water and returning to shore safely. The same strategy would apply if you were sinking in credit card debt.

In the fall of 2004, 69 percent of college undergraduates carried a zero balance on their card. By spring of 2008, that number had plummeted to 15 percent! Thankfully, this drastic change is beginning to reverse, along with the overall debt situation in America.

According to the Federal Reserve’s monthly consumer credit report, America’s credit card debt is improving with each month. In fact, 29 of the last 30 months have seen credit card balances decrease, from $974 billion in August 2008 to $794 billion this past month. Some of the relief has been from charging off debts, or “throwing things overboard.” A lot of it, however, has come from a decline in spending and a focus on paying off what is owed, or “plugging the hole and bailing water.”

Just like there are shops to repair boats, there are fortunately credit cards to rebuild credit too. Things happen and mistakes are made, but no matter how deep you've sunk, you can always right your own ship by following some basic rules and responsibly using the right financial products.  And frankly, it's refreshing to see Americans finally taking charge of their financial situations and working to get out of debt once and for all.

Are you taking the right steps too?

Photo credit: Shutterstock / Natalia Dobryanskaya

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Jason Bushey's picture

Jason Bushey is the former Editor and Vice President of Creditnet. Jason is a Burlington, Vermont native who moved to sunny San Diego after earning a Bachelor's Degree in English and Political Science at the University of Vermont ('09). When he's not sharing his take on credit cards, administrating the Creditnet Forum or blogging about all things related to credit, you can probably find him cheering on the Green Bay Packers (He's an owner!) or running up and down the streets of SoCal.

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