A tip of the cap to my friend Lee Corso for the title here. He has it right.

Undoubtedly, you have witnessed the recent surge in the stock market with gurus predicting all kinds of top lines. Now, you feel is the time to jump back in. Besides, your ancient Aunt Trudy who lives in Kalamazoo and who you haven't seen in about lebenty-leben years has sent you $5,000 for the holidays. (Yeah, I know. We should all have that kind of Aunt Trudy.) The perfect time to invest the moolah, right?

Yes, Maybe, and No.

Or as Johnny Mercer and Rube Bloom wrote, "Fools rush in where wise men never go."

Consider one aspect before jumping back into the stock market or even venturing forward for the first time: You must have your own personal finances in top-drawer condition.

What do I mean?

Take a look in your wallet. When you open it up, do you see a big wad of cash staring back at you or is it so thick with credit cards you can’t even fold it? If the latter, give this investment venture a reconsideration.

Most credit cards today have an annual interest of rate or anywhere from 15% to 28%. So, with that in mind, take another look at that check from Aunt Trudy for $5,000. Consider that you also have $5,000 in credit card debt with an average annual interest rate of, let's say, 18%. If you invest that $5,000 instead of paying off the credit card, then you must realize an 18% return on your investment after taxes…or try 24% before taxes…just to break even. You know any company out there that is paying that kind of return? If so, let me know ASAP.

See what I mean? Your answer to all of this is usually, "I never seem to get ahead." Know why? It's that credit card debt. Presently, there are more than a billion credit cards in circulation in this country which represents about four cards for every man, woman, and yes, child. In fact, 70% of all credit card holders today carry a revolving card balance each month because they are simply paying the minimum amount due.

So, if you take a card with an annual interest rate of 18% and you make minimum payments of let's say 2% or $10, whichever is the larger, then on just a $1,000 balance you are going to spend 19 years paying off that debt. And guess what? Let's add the cherry on the top. You will pay some $1,900 in interest on that $1,000.

You want to invest that $5,000 into something worthwhile? Then either pay off that credit card debt or get into business with the credit card company. Sure, invest in the company that's been charging you that 18%.

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