Being that I am locked up in an editing room for the next few days testing, fixing and retesting the Canon 60D Crash Course, I decided to give Netflix a spin. I am finding there are a ton of great documentaries on there.

One that really made an impression on me to recommend was called “Maxed Out”. In many ways I found it more scary than anything I’ve seen in theaters for a long time, mostly because this is real.

Some interesting facts pointed out:

– For every dollar paid on the initial principal (or how much a credit card lent you to make a purchase) they make an additional $2 through late fees, over the limit fees, and interest. What this means is: that $5 latte you charged really cost you $15, or that $100 pair of jeans cost you $300.

– Credit Card companies want customers who have already filed for bankruptcy for 2 reasons;
1. These individuals cannot file for bankruptcy a second time
2. The individuals are fine making the monthly payments

-One credit card company would “lose” or even destroy incoming checks to help boost earnings (late fee charges).

-Credit Card companies specifically target 18 year olds at colleges across the nation, for a few reasons:
1. That is the minimum age legal required.
2. New found freedoms without the cash drive credit card use, and often impossible to payback bills.

– Credit card companies know the risks associated with those who cannot control their spending are the most profitable, and that the risk of default (or never recovering their money) is much less than the amount of money to be made.

– Bad Credit is literally “sold” to credit collectors regularly. These are the folks who would be calling you) who look at collection as a type of “competitive sport”. One of the guys they interviewed seemed to absolutely enjoy what he did.

– Credit Card companies knowingly take advantage of their customers when they sign up, knowing many will not, or cannot understand the fine print. Once it is on paper and you sign, they have you.

Something that wasn’t said, but more alluded to was that many people get credit cards believing they will just “pay it off each month”. It seems that there is some “behavioral conditioning” that comes into play here and over a period of time, the “ill pay it off each month” becomes “I really need this now, so Ill have to pay it off next month” and the cycle gets longer and longer. I feel that even rewards programs (such as free miles or whatever) are an incentive for this conditioning.

There were a few little things in there I didn’t quite agree with, but for the most part, it was an excellent documentary and I would highly recommend it for the whole family, especially teenagers. (If you have Netflix you already have it).

I have not used a credit card for 3 full years now and it has been one of the biggest life-changing decisions I have ever made. It took some real effort to change my state of mind, getting away from wanting to have that safety net there, to plan and to have the discipline to say no to myself. It was very uncomfortable, but now looking back- it was absolutely worth it. I am not so sure I will ever use a credit card again…ever…for anything. I honestly believe it is as addicting and as destructive as any drug out there. There is much more to the story and I am sure I will share someday.