Using Credit Wisely

Too many people get credit cards and think of them as “free money”.  There is no such thing as free money and I’ll just get it now and pay for it later is a mind set certain to lead you into financial disaster.

I carry one card.  One.  I keep it in case of emergency.  Every three or four months I charge something on it and then pay it off in full, immediately.  The longer you wait to pay for an item, the more interest you are going to accrue and the more that item is going to cost.  The reason I charge something and then pay it off pronto is to keep my card active and keep my credit rating looking good — in case I should ever have an emergency that requires credit.

The banks that put out credit cards actually want you to misuse them.  That’s how they make their money — by charging you more and more and more. For that reason, you need to be alert when you are applying for credit and filling out credit card applications

  • Make certain you know what your interest rate is at all times.
  • Do not use your credit card for luxury purchases if you can’t pay the items off quickly.
  • Be skeptical of 0% interest rate offers and make certain you wholly understand to the date how long that offer is good, and what the interest rate will revert to at the end of that window.
  • Misusing your credit card is the fastest way to bury yourself in unmanageable debt.

If I sound to you like I am someone who knows what I am talking about, it is because I have “been there and done that”. I got myself through college using credit cards, then spent the next five years scrimping and saving to pay them off. I worked three jobs. One fed and clothed me. One made my car payments. One paid my credit card debit. I was working 12-15 hours per day, 7 days per week, to pay for things long consumed. It isn’t a mistake I will make again.

If you have credit card issues or questions, the U.S. Department of the Treasury has a website you might wish to peruse: Helpwithmybank.gov. You can find explanations for credit terms, credit laws, credit management techniques, dispute procedures and much more with just the flick of your mouse.

Remember, spending beyond your means will not help you live well. It is very hard to enjoy your luxuries while you’re stressed wondering how you’re going to pay for them — or while you’re off working at the three jobs it takes to keep them from being repossessed. If you must use credit, remember it is a tool. Educate yourself on how to use it wisely.

12 thoughts on “Using Credit Wisely

  1. i think tools like credit cards are useful in bridging an immediate crisis but one must be always aware the debt will have tobe repaid. a spending spree is NOT the way to use them.

  2. Plus the company’s “entice” you with free miles. I know I would use my credit card more, if we had that option here.
    Good post!

    • Betty — free miles and money back is a major gimmick that almost never pays off because the conditions for using them are always so specific and extreme.

  3. I have two credit cards, *both mastercard* because the one that I wanted wouldn’t give me one unless I had a credit rating all ready, so I got the first one to establish one and then applied for the second one after. The first one now sits unused except the $40/month I pay for my World Vision sponser child which I never switched over. The second one I use as much as I can, for groceries, gas, whatever. I always pay it off right away so I never have paid interest, but I like to use it it as much as possible because 1) the money sits in my bank a little longer and I get more interest and b) it offers reward points so I actually get a lot of free groceries off of it, the more i use it, the more free stuff. In other words, I make money by using it. As long as I pay the bills on time and don’t spend what I don’t have in my bank account so that I can pay it off, I don’t have to worry about it. Not once in the years I’ve had it have I ever had to pay interest.

    • As for the free stuff, I probably get about $20/month free groceries from it. (I could use it for other rewards instead, but I just spend the points on groceries every time I have enough haha). On my first card, it takes forever to get points because I never use it except for my little girl, but I did just recently turn in the points for a set of stainless steel cutlery that I needed. Took me 3 years to get that on that card haha, shows how much I use it.

      • Teresa — that’s the wise way to use a credit card. Too many people don’t have the discipline it takes to pay the bill in full. And there are folks like me who forget to mail payments.

        • I don’t mail the payments, I have it set up over the internet so I just have to type in the amount, hit send and I’m done… so much easier 🙂

    • Melli — I used my library card to unlock a door once, but never my credit card — of course, I don’t carry them on a day-to-day basis and they’re only in my purse if I am wandering far from home.

  4. Since I shop at Costco a fair amount, I have an American Express card through them, which is good for anywhere AmEx is accepted. I use it for everything: groceries, gas, and other necessities. It is automatically paid off each month from my checking account, which works great because I am merely using it the way I used to use checks. And the bonus is the rebate check I receive each year, equal to 2 trips to Costco!
    I totally agree with you about credit cards being a tool. I didn’t have one until after I turned 21, and only then as emergency insurance. We only started using our card in the current manner in the past several years as banking (and life in general) has become so much easier if done electronically.
    Because of this, I have never had credit card debt. However, I have had friends with horrendous debt and it is crippling.

    • Karen — I wish I had known how to shop that way when I was younger. And I may just have to get a credit card with rebates. I’m missing out!

Comments are closed.