When it comes to credit, we can be our own worst enemies.



When it comes to credit, we can be our own worst enemies.

   Area high school and college students are learning to avoid the pitfalls, thanks to a program sponsored by F&M Bank and Trust Company.

   Get Smart About Credit gives kids the tools they need to wade what can at times be murky financial waters.

   The program is being offered in advance of next February’s implementation of the Credit Card Accountability and Disclosure Act, which will require people under age 21 to have a co-signor or prove they have financial means to repay a loan.

   Presenters such as Janet Allen and Frank Di Tillo focused upon lessons that were practical and applicable.

   “Have a budget and pay attention to your budget,” Allen said. “Make sure you have a plan to pay it back in a timely manner.”

   Students “did seem to be aware that somewhere along the way they’ve got to be looking at budgets and finance,” Di Tillo said. “It seemed to work pretty well.”

   Allen and Di Tillo offered tips on factors that can affect loans, how to establish and keep good credit, the dangers of overspending on credit cards and the results of a poor credit history. There also was talk about identity theft.

   Sessions were held this week in Hannibal. Students from Palmyra, Mark Twain, South Shelby and Fort Zumwalt high schools and Hannibal-LaGrange and John Wood Community colleges also will participate.

   “I learned that credit can be helpful and useful, but you have to make sure you use it wisely and pay it back,” said Hannibal High junior Katie Merrell. “I don’t think people realize how much it will add up quickly.”

   “There’s a lot to learn,” agreed Hannibal High junior Paul Trenhaile. “A lot of things can jump up on you and you don’t even know they’re there.”