Dear Mary: My credit card company raised my minimum payment from 2 to 5 percent of my outstanding balance each month and added a $10 monthly administration fee on top of interest. I complained. They offered to let me keep my lower minimum payment, but they would raise my interest rate from 5.5 percent APR to 7.99. I used the calculators at your website at DebtProofLiving.com to see what interest I would pay with each scenario. I kept my current terms after I learned I would pay less in interest, even taking into consideration the $10 monthly fee. Then, I filed complaints with anyone who would listen.
Thank you for your recommendation to report complaints to the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC.gov). When I threatened to contact the comptroller, they refunded three months of finance charges to my account. Thanks to your information and calculators, I feel better informed. Thank you. — Theresa, email
Dear Theresa: Good for you! Please let us know when you reach $0 so we can celebrate, too.
Dear Mary: I have an engagement ring with an appraised value of $11,500. I would like to sell it to pay off some debt. I tried selling it on Craigslist and almost ended up falling for a scam. What is the safest way to sell this ring? Now I’m apprehensive. — Linda, Pennsylvania
Dear Linda: It would be hard in normal times to sell your ring for anywhere close to its appraised value, but it’s even more difficult in this current economy. Here’s the problem: Diamonds are an artificially constructed commodity whose values are kept inflated by the diamond industry itself, which buys up diamonds quickly and hoards them.
Your diamond is only worth what another person will pay for it, and no one pays the appraised value for a previously owned gem unless it is extraordinarily collectible. Even thieves have trouble selling diamonds these days.
I have a feeling your appraisal came from a diamond retailer who was happy to give you that $11,500 value for insurance purposes but was not interested in purchasing the ring from you for that price. The website, Diamonds2Cash.com, which might have been a source for you to get at least something for that ring, is now buying only perfect or “ideal cut” diamonds at discounted prices because the demand for diamonds has plummeted.
I suggest that you go to eBay and study completed transactions for diamond rings, as well as the items for sale by individuals. You will learn the true worth of your ring. Selling valuables on eBay is safer than Craigslist. Unlike eBay, Craigslist does not get involved in transactions and does not handle payments, guarantee transactions or provide escrow services. Further, on eBay you will not be announcing your location and contact information to would-be thieves and scam artists. I wish you well and hope you can find a legitimate buyer soon.
Do you have a question for Mary? Email her at email@example.com, or write to Everyday Cheapskate, P.O. Box 2099, Cypress, CA 90630.
Mary Hunt is founder of www.DebtProofLiving.com, a personal finance member website.
To find out more about Mary, please visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.