Here is another good article about how we have become a nation addicted to debt:
It echoes the stories that you have seen. I have not done everything "right" financially, but we have not fallen into the debt trap like so many people have. You, Rick and Kara need to pull back a little bit and get your non-mortgage debt paid off. The mortgage is fine and is almost a fact of life. The rest is a way for credit card companies to bleed money away from you.
Think about this. Every time you use a credit card the credit card company takes 2 to 3% of the transaction. And we all pay for that. The vendor does not say I want $1000 for this and if you pay cash I will give it to you for $970. No they say I need to get $1000 for this to make a reasonable profit but most people use credit cards and I (the vendor) will have to pay the credit card company $30 on each item, so I will charge $1030 and let my customer pay the extra $31. Pretty neat for the credit card company. But it does not stop there. The credit card company, out of the goodness of their heart, say you only have to pay 2% of your outstanding balance each month because we are willing to loan you’re the remaining $1009 at %20. Next month you own $1009 + $15.45 interest and pay $20.60. Guess how much the credit card company will make and how long you will be paying before the original $1030 charge is paid off? Over 19 years! And the credit card company will get about $2,020 in interest plus the original $30.
Go to this web site and play around with the numbers: http://www.bankrate.com/brm/calc/MinPayment.asp
If instead of making the minimum payment you pay $100 each month it will be paid off in 1 year and the credit card company only makes about $105. The credit card company really does not want you to pay extra. But it gets even better for the credit card company if you miss a payment, then they get to charge you a $25 to $45 late fee and the interest.
Just remember that when you are paying interest on credit cards you are also helping support a couple of other families in addition to your own. You are much better off putting off instant gratification, saving your money and buying what you truly need and can afford with cash. Then all of your earnings will go to support you family and its habits instead of god knows who and their habits.