Most people start using credit cards with the best of intentions—but life happens and spending on plastic is so easy and when the bill comes and shows you the total owed but also shows you a smaller minimum payment– temptation to pay the minimum can be super seductive!! “You can make this bill go away if you pay us $1000.00 or $100.00.” Of course the $100.00 is the one you want to pay! Unfortunately, if you only pay your minimum your mind deluslionaly thinks it has almost $900.00 extra to spend that month! And so it goes until you get the next month’s bill!
Most people don’t get into big debt in just one month usually it is a slow adding up over several months.
Here are a few tips to use your credit card wisely.
- Ideally, don’t use your credit card if you can’t pay the bill in full each month. Credit cards charge really high interest and those $5.00 coffees could actually be costing you $10.00 by the time you get them paid off! Research shows that people are less likely to over spend if they are using cash rather than credit.
- If you don’t pay off your card each month take a good look at your statement and ask yourself what are you buying? It’s amazing how much spending can become automatic. Sometimes we aren’t really thinking about the cost when we are eating out or ordering items online. Take a good look at your statement and then…
- Ask yourself what did I buy that I could have done without? What did I buy because there was peer pressure or because I was in a social environment? Sometimes when we are with other people we will order more than we would when we are alone. Appetizers, dessert and extra drinks seem to be a tempting addition when we are with friends.
- Looking over your statement ask yourself: Did you buy anything because you were doing retail therapy? What could you have done instead to comfort yourself without buying anything? Or if you really needed to get something could you have spent less? Perhaps by buying a delicious tea that you could brew at home and still have some left for the next time you need comforting☺
Putting comfort purchases on a credit card is the start of a vicious cycle –you are feeling down and then you shop and you feel better. But feeling better is short lived because then the bill arrives and then you feel guilty that you have spent so much so you spend more to medicate the guilt and then end up spending even more because, “What the heck I am already so deep in debt what’s another purchase?!”
Figuring out where you are spending and being honest about your spending habits is the best way to develop healthier credit card habits.
Once you know your habits then you can take a look and ask yourself which ones would be the easiest to break and start there. Have you been doing a drive thru to get coffee? Do u have a travel mug you could fill at home? Or one you could fill when u get to the office?
Have you been going out to lunch?
Find a friend or co-worker to have lunch with and bring your own lunch. You’ll be amazed at how much further your money can go buying food from the grocery store instead of a restaurant.
You might feel like the little bit of savings won’t matter but that’s not true! Look at how the little bit of spending added up!!! The little bit of savings will start to add up too! Instead of the vicious debt cycle start a productive saving cycle! When you Start to curb your credit spending it will feel good and then you’ll be even more motivated to keep your credit habits in control.