Scott Walker is boring, but there turns out to be nothing boring about the personal financial jam he's found himself in. According to his financial disclosure forms, he's carrying $10,000 to $15,000 in debt on a Barclays credit card that charges him a staggering 27.24 percent interest rate.
That's a disastrously high rate that only a person in truly desperate financial straits should find himself paying. And while it's true that, as National Journal writes, Walker is "among the poorer Republican candidates for president," he's hardly poor. His gig as governor of Wisconsin pays $144,000 a year, and his previous gig as a county executive also carried a six-figure salary.
We don't know exactly what Walker did to land himself in this situation, but with an income that's quite a bit higher than the typical American's he's somehow managed to both overspend and to do so in a very imprudent way.
This is actually how Scott Walker ran his state
Politicians' personal financial dealings are not all that reliable a guide to how they would conduct themselves in office.
But recently, Walker has essentially resorted to the equivalent of high-interest credit card debt to deal with his state's 2014 budget shortfall. Rather than scale back his tax-cutting aspirations or accept federal Medicaid expansion dollars, Walker handled the shortfall in part by skipping a $100 million debt payment the state owned, even though doing so will incur $19 million in additional interest costs over the next two years. That's a considerably better interest rate than what Walker is getting on his Barclays card, but it's still pretty steep.
Walker needs to restructure this debt
Wisconsin is probably just stuck with these high payments, but Walker could almost certainly improve his own financial situation. Presidential candidates' financial disclosure forms don't tell you anything about primary residences or mortgages on primary residences. So it's difficult to get a really full picture of Walker's financial situation. If he has some equity in a home, then a simple and attractive option might be to take out a home equity loan and use it to pay off the credit card bill. Since home equity loans are secured by the value of your house, they are available at much lower interest rates than credit cards.
Failing that, Walker might want to just try a different credit card.
He could, for example, transfer his balance to the Chase Slate card, which would give him a zero percent interest rate for 15 months. He could then keep making the same monthly payment he's making, except use it to pay down 15 months' worth of principal. When the grace period expires, he'll be facing a variable interest rate that ranges between 12.99 percent and 22.99 percent, which is better than what he's paying currently.