In the last column, I listed the Top Ten Lessons that I use in my CARE presentations in the schools, and started to set out some other things that you would hear at a CARE presentation, indicating that I would include more of them in this column. I hope that they are good food for thought for everyone.

Before I do that, I have to address those nasty Porch Pirates, who steal packages from people’s porches. According to CBS News and USA Today, 23 million Americans have fallen victim to these thieves. As we buy more and more online, this problem is predictably increasing. I don’t buy much online, so I am not one of those who will be putting retailers and malls out of business. Mostly just Marine Corps “stuff," which I have a feeling that if the pirates do steal it, they may just bring in back.

CBS News indicated that one step you can take to protect yourself from this problem is to have your packages delivered to someone who will be there to accept them, or to your place of employment. Who knows a person like that in today’s world where everyone is busy, seemingly doing a million things every day? And I don’t know how many employers would like you to have your packages delivered there, especially if you order regularly.

However, according to USAtoday.com, there is now a lot of technology available to combat these thieves, including surveillance cameras and an Amazon Locker, much like a post office box, where you receive an unlock code and then you receive an email when a package is delivered. Then there is The Doorman App (not everywhere yet), which accepts your deliveries and allows you to set a time for them to be delivered to you when you are home. My favorite is Package Guard, a Frisbee-sized disk that you secure on your porch. It sends an alert to your phone when a delivery arrives. These are just a few of the growing number of offerings to consider if you can see porch pirates as being a problem for you.

As promised, here are a few other things that you would hear if you attended a CARE presentation that I do in the schools and for other organizations.

5. Personal finances are not about your Academic IQ, they are about your Financial IQ, and we all have to work to increase our Financial IQs. It is not like osmosis, it doesn’t just happen. It takes some time and effort. Take classes; read books, articles, and columns. Talk with friends or family members who seem to have it together when it comes to their finances. We all know some highly educated and otherwise successful people who have financial problems of their own making, not because of a catastrophic event in their lives.

6. There is nothing wrong with a credit card. You need one in today’s world to do things like rent a car, check into a hotel, and shop online, and using one responsibly builds your credit. The problem is credit card debt, which, from my experience, is the worst kind of consumer debt, with possible high interest rates and significant fees. Unless you are a “deadbeat," who pays off your charges in full on time every month, you will be paying more for everything you do or buy with that card. Bottom line — use it for convenience, just a way to spend the money you already have, not to live above your means and incur more debt. Also, just because you may have the cash flow to service your credit card debt, that doesn’t mean you can “afford” it, or that you are not living above your means — especially if your cash flow is, in part, because of the money you are borrowing on other credit cards or consumer debt like home equity loans.

Also, you don’t NEED more than one credit card. If you only have one, it is very easy to review it every month to make sure that all of the charges are correct, and to get a handle on your spending habits. Store charges can result in your spending more money in that store than you otherwise would with just a regular credit card, and the same goes for rewards cards — you may spend more because you are thinking “rewards.”

Carrying credit card debt for a long time must kill some brain cells. Maybe it is the strip or the chip, but if you listen to enough people in a bankruptcy court talk about their credit card debt, how they incurred it, or how they thought they could pay it off, you could easily conclude that they had some “credit card brain damage.”

More next time.

John Ninfo is a retired bankruptcy judge and the founder of the National CARE Financial Literacy Program. Find his previous weekly columns at http://www.mpnnow.com/search?text=Ninfo or at http://www.monroecopost.com/search?text=Ninfo