Americans Still Behind Other Countries in Supporting Mothers on Maternity Leave; Don't Let Credit Cards Become a Crutch

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Recent figures show that American families find it more difficult to go on maternity leave due to financial difficulties. Consolidated Credit offers money management and debt consolidation advice for this crucial life-event.

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Temporary loss of income and unexpected expenses during maternity leave is one of the most common cause people end up in credit counseling.” says Howard Dvorkin, the founder of Consolidated Credit Counseling Service, Inc.

In most countries women on maternity leave are guaranteed between 75% and 100% of their salary, according to the International Labor Organization’s study “Maternity Protection At Work”. The United States has no legal requirement for paid maternity leave and lags behind in securing the rights of women who return to work after having children, says the U.N. sponsored report.

If you don’t budget your finances and take in account your loss of income due to maternity leave you could be heading for trouble. “The birth of a child sends many families into an overwhelming cycle of credit card debt, late payments, and harassing collection calls. Temporary loss of income and unexpected expenses during maternity leave is one of the most common cause people end up in credit counseling.” says Howard Dvorkin, the founder of Consolidated Credit Counseling Service, Inc.

Warning Signs For Credit Problems:

-- Your credit cards are maxed out and you’re only paying the minimum.
-- You’re using one card to pay off another. Don’t fool yourself into thinking you squaring away your debts. All you’re doing is borrowing more money.
-- Bills are paid with money intended for other things.
-- Money is borrowed or credit cards are being used to pay for items that used to be bought with cash.
-- Savings are used to pay current bills.

Under normal circumstance making only minimum payments on your credit cards is unwise. Minimum payments cover mostly interest. For example, if you want to pay off a $5,000 debt with minimum payments it can take 7 to 10 years and can end up costing as much $15,000 to $20,000! During maternity leave making only minimum payments may be necessary evil, but planning to use your credit cards as a safety net for unexpected expenses is foolish.

Money Rules to Follow

1.    Save as much money as possible for unexpected expenses.
2.    Carefully prepare a budget including fixed and flexible expenses.
3.    Eliminated all unnecessary expenses.
4.    Live on cash and stop incurring new credit card debt.
5.    If your total credit card debt is more than 20% of your take-home pay, consider contacting a credit counselor for help.

Tightening your belt can be difficult, but your goal is to survive the loss of income without causing irreparable financial damage. Make sure you can afford at least the minimum payments on all your credit cards. This may not eliminate debt, but you will not end up having to pay thousands of extra dollars due to missed payments and increased interest rates.

About Consolidated Credit Counseling Services:

Consolidated Credit Counseling Services, founded in 1993, is one of the nation's largest credit counseling organizations in the country. Consolidated Credit''s mission is to assist families throughout the United States in ending financial crisis, and solving money management problems through education and professional counseling. As a nationally recognized organization, Consolidated Credit has helped millions households annually with their personal finances. For free and affordable confidential advice call 1-800-728-3632 or visit http://www.consolidatedcredit.org.

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April Lewis-Parks
Consolidated Credit Counseling Services, Inc.
(954) 377-9344
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