Saturday, June 4, 2011

How to Reduce Your Credit Card Interest Rates.

F.A.M.E. -- The 'F' in FAME stands for 'Financial Advisor'

by Monroe Mann, MBA

Guess what?  You are probably needlessly paying more in credit card interest than you legally have to.  And by simply reducing your interest rates, you will end up with more money in your pocket at the end of each month.   Sounds great, right?

Well then, just follow these three simple steps, and voila, your interest rates should drop:
a) Take out one of your credit cards from your wallet/purse.
b) Call the customer service number on the back.
c) When someone answers the phone, say these words, "Hi, I am calling about lowering my interest rate.  May I please speak to someone about that?"

If you do this with each of your credit cards, the odds are in your favor that they will have the authority to decrease your interest rates on the spot.  How do I know this works?  Because I have done it numerous times.  In fact, I did this just today with my Capital One credit card, and had one of my interest rates reduced by over 5%.  This is a significant amount if your balance is high.  This is still a significant amount even if your balance is low--cause why should you pay for interest you don't have to pay?

Are there exceptions to this three-step system?  Yes, of course.  Sometimes I call up and they say, "I'm sorry, we don't have any interest rate reduction offers at this time."  In that case, ask to speak with a supervisor.  Often, the front-line customer service reps are not authorized to reduce your interest rate, but a supervisor can.

You might be wondering: "Why would they agree to reduce my interest rate?"  The answer is simple: they want to keep you as a customer.  By lowering your interest rate, they encourage you to pay off more of your credit card balance.  The more of that balance that is paid off, the more likely you will again use that credit card to make purchases.  The more often you use that credit card to make purchases, the more interest income the credit card companies will make.  See--they are not lowering the rates just to be nice; they are lowering the rates in an effort to woo you as a customer.  If you close the account due to a high interest rate, they will lose you as an interest paying customer.  They would rather appease you in the short term than lose you in the long term, and that's just good business no matter what country you are from.

If after all your efforts, they still say no--do not give up.  Just wait two months, and call them again, and ask the same question.  I can virtually guarantee that eventually, you will receive an interest rate reduction if you keep asking.

Sometimes, the interest rate reduction is permanent.  Sometimes it is only for a short period of time (three to seven months).  If you receive a short-term reduction, be sure to mark in your calendar when the interest rate is scheduled to increase again--that's your cue to call them back again and--once again--ask for an interest rate reduction.

One other strategy: if you do receive a short-term reduction, work your butt off to pay off as much of that credit card balance as possible during that time.  With the lower rate, your payments will have more bang for the buck, and when/if the rate jumps back up again, you will end up paying less overall because the balance is now much lower than it was when the rate originally was reduced.

I hope this is helpful!

The Science of Stardom - Part IV

Part IV - The Foundation of Stardom & The Four Pillars of Stardom
by Monroe Mann
(c) 2011 by Monroe Mann

The Foundation of Stardom

In Part III, I provided a theoretical foundation for my theory of stardom.  That being said, time to get to the main event here: the science of stardom. 

First off, the talent is NOT why someone succeeds or does not succeed.  It is merely one ingredient.  And frankly, as far as I am concerned, the foundation is NOT amazing talent.  Talent, folks, is assumed.  Either you got it or you don’t, and frankly, it doesn’t matter whether you do or not.  Case in point: how many movie, tv, and rock stars do you know of who you think absolutely stink?  Well, somehow they made it.  Think about that for a moment and then… case closed.  Clearly, they had something else.  Yes, the right attitude and business sense (as I have always said), but more importantly, they probably had a large enough fanbase.

You see, your fanbase is what assures your stardom; not your talent.  Your talent is merely what will get you a fanbase.  And in fact, in many cases, you don’t even need talent to have a fanbase.  Check out the folks on all these reality shows: they display no talent, and yet, they sure do have a fanbase.

Bottom line?  The foundation of stardom is YOUR FANBASE.  And everything you do from this day forward needs to be the development of that fanbase.

The Four Pillars of Stardom

However, a fanbase alone is—as I said—just the foundation.  You still need to build up your career, and this happens by building what I call the four pillars of stardom.

The four pillars (and this is what I figured out when watching the Justin Bieber movie) are: Belief, Connections, Influence, & Resources.  First I’ll explain the four pillars, and then I’ll explain how Justin Bieber’s rise fits into this theoretical framework like a cookie cutter.

  1. PILLAR ONE IS BELIEF: You need someone who believes that you are the greatest thing on the planet and who supports you one-hundred and ten percent.  Not a he’s pretty good type of belief but rather an I unequivocally believe in his greatness and that he is the next big thing! type of belief.
  2. PILLAR TWO IS CONNECTIONS: You next need someone who already has the first pillar who also has connections with people with influence and resources.  You see, a lot of people have connections.  The question is, “what type of connections does this person have?”
  1. PILLAR THREE IS INFLUENCE: You next need someone who has the first two pillars (belief and connections), but more importantly, influence.  In other words, what good is a huge supporter who has powerful connections if that person has no influence over those powerful connections?  You need someone who believes in you, who also knows powerful people, and who has the power to influence those powerful people.
  1. PILLAR FOUR IS RESOURCES: Finally, you next need someone who has the first three pillars (belief, connection, and influence), and also resources.  In other words, what good is a huge supporter who has influence over powerful connections if ultimately those powerful connections do not have the resources to help promote, market, and ‘manufacture’ your platform for stardom?
Bottom line, it doesn’t matter how strong your foundation (i.e. your fanbase) if you lack any of these four pillars. 

Here are some examples:

a)      You can have a team that has belief, connections, and influence… but if you lack the team member with resources, it doesn’t matter how much the team is behind you—you simply cannot sustain your drive to the top.

b)      You can have a team that has belief, connections, and resources… but if you lack the team member with influence to make things happen and get the ball rolling, you will remain mired in a hope and a dream.

c)      You can have a team that has belief, influence, and resources… but if you lack the team member with connections, then you’ll have no one to influence.

d)      You can have a team that has connections, influence, and resources… but if you lack the team member with belief in you, then you’ll have a ready-made machine, with no one inspired to put it in motion on your behalf.

Now, some of you may have realized something.  What is a fan?  In my opinion, after watching this Bieber movie, a true fan is simply someone who... a) has an unequivocal belief in your greatness, has connections, has the ability to influence others, and resources to show their support.  In other words, a fan is someone who thinks you’re awesome, has lots of friends, the ability to turn their friends onto you, and the money to buy your CDs, movies, tshirts, books, etc. 

Think about all this for a moment, and you’ll realize that it makes complete and perfect sense: who is at the top of the media ladder?  You are.  Next?  The fans.  And therefore, the fans are pretty powerful.  That’s why they are the foundation of stardom. 

Next comes the four pillars.  And think about all this a little more: each pillar (i.e. each member of your team) must first and foremost become a FAN before they can become any of the other pillars.  If you have any member of your team who does not first satisfy the test of the first pillar, i.e. unequivocal belief in your greatness, then that team member is essentially useless.   For example, what good is someone with connections without a belief in your greatness—for without that belief, they will not use their connections on your behalf.  Nor will they use their influence.  Nor will they particularly use their resources to help you. 

Anyone and everyone who is on your team must first believe 110% in your awesomeness, and believe that you are going to be the next big thing. 

If not, then you are wasting your time with that person or those people, because they are never ever going to get off their ass and actually do something for you.

Coming up next—what I have been promising the whole time: explaining away the ‘luck’ that everyone claims was responsible for Justin Bieber’s rise to the top.