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Avoid these 5 Dumb Ways of Using a Credit Card

Avoid these 5 Dumb Ways of Using a Credit Card

A lot of consumers these days take advantage of credit cards for their financial transactions. Some of them do not just own a single credit card, as they are equipped with multiple credit cards that they can swipe alternately for purchases and payments.

This way, there would be no need for them to bring a lot of cash as they are willing to deal with the interest rates from credit card companies. Even though there are already a lot of people who use credit cards, there are still people who do not know the proper ways of using it and are taking advantage of it the wrong way. Here are 5 things that you should completely avoid when using a credit card.

1. Not Paying in Full

There are credit card users who do not pay their billing statements in full just because they do not want to deal with loose change involved with it such as the centavos. What these people do not understand is that the unpaid amount will be charged with interest for the next month and this will accumulate on the statement balance on that same month.

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The amount is not that much that is why it is often overlooked, but if you are trying to be thrifty, then you are actually wasting some dollars just because you don’t pay your credit card in full.

2. Not Aware of the Terms and Conditions of the Credit Card Provider

Most of the credit card companies work the same way but there could be minor differences in their terms and conditions, that could spell a major factor towards the way you use your credit card.

This is why it is important to completely understand the terms and conditions that your credit card company have before even taking advantage of their service. A lot of people have gone bankrupt due to this simple ignorance.

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3. Not Using Your Credit Card at All

There are people who do not use their credit card at all in order to avoid paying for interest rates and other fees that go along with credit card usage. However, this is not a smart idea at all because if your credit card becomes inactive for months, then the credit provider could deem your account inactive and eventually close your credit line.

This may not seem like a big deal but this move will actually reflect into your credit report and will eventually affect your financial situation in the long run. Using credit has several benefits. You can get several cashback offers by using the credit, while the credit just sitting there is not going to benefit you in any way.

4. Maximizing your Credit Limit

Getting the most out of your credit card can also hurt your credit report. Even if you are capable of paying that amount, creditors would still think that you do not have cash ready and you’re only resorting towards credit for your finances.

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The interest rate that would take its toll on your monthly balance would also be outstanding. If you are only smart enough the money that goes out to your interest rates should have already been considered as savings.

5. Using the Credit Card for Cash Advance

Most credit companies feed off users who use their credit cards for cash withdrawal. The interest rate this way is much higher compared when a credit card is swiped for goods and other transactions. Using your card much like a debit card is not advisable and is very risky. Only resort to this method in case of emergencies or else you would get used to this method and use it frequently which can take toll on your finances.

Using a credit card can be a form of privilege given that there are companies who offer cash back rewards when you keep on swiping them. However, monitoring your credit account along with your finances is more important just to make sure you are still on track when it comes to your credit card usage.

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Featured photo credit: Lifestyle via blog.tugo.com

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Published on September 17, 2018

How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

Achieving financial success is not something that just happens. Maybe if you win the lottery or something, but for the average person like you or me, it comes from a series of small steps you take over a long period of time.

With each step, you form a new smart money habit. And with each smart money habit, you build towards financial independence.

So what sort of habits can you form to get on that path? Let’s take a look at smart money habits you can start today to get you closer to a financially independent future.

1. Avoid being “penny wise but pound foolish”

It’s tempting to try saving a couple cents here and there when buying small items. However, that’s not where the real money is saved. You’re putting in extra effort for something that doesn’t move the needle.

You get the most bang when you’re able to cut down on your bigger bills. For example, finding a lower interest rate for your mortgage could save you $50+ per month. And cutting your transportation bill by purchasing a cheaper car or taking public transportation can provide large gains as well.

So, look at your recurring expenses such as housing, transportation, and insurance, and see where there’s wiggle room. It’s a much better use of your time than trying to pinch pennies here and there on smaller purchases.

2. When you want something big, wait

Impulsivity can get you in trouble in most aspects of life. Finances are no different.

It’s human nature to see something and want it right then and there. It starts as a kid in the checkout line at the grocery store, and it continues on through adulthood.

We get an idea in our head of something we want, and it’s hard not to go out and get it right then.

A good example is wanting a new car. Perhaps you’ve had your car for several years. It’s crossed the 100k mile mark. Maybe maintenance is due, and you’re annoyed that you need to replace the timing belt or purchase new tires.

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So, you get the itch.

You start digging around online, and you realize you could trade in your current car for something newer and more exciting… all for a few hundred bucks a month. Then you get obsessed.

Here’s where you have to take a step back.

Your newfound obsession is clouding your judgement. Rather than giving into the impulse, wait it out.

Set a timeframe for yourself. Maybe you come back to the decision three months down the road. See if the obsession lasts.

It might, but often, a funny thing happens. Often, you forget about it. And often, you find that the new car wasn’t a need at all.

The impulse faded. And you just saved yourself a ton of money.

3. Live smaller than you can afford

You finally get that big raise. And you want to celebrate – and why not?

You’ve been looking forward to this forever. And after all, it was all due to your hard work.

That’s fine, splurge a little. However, make it a one-time deal and be done.

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Don’t get caught in the trap that just because you’re now making more money, you should spend more.

Too often, people get more money and feel like they that gives them the means to buy a bigger house, a bigger car… you know the drill. Resist.

The fact is that living smaller than what you can afford is one of the fastest ways to build savings.

But if you constantly upgrade as you begin to make more, then you’ll never get ahead. You’ll just build up more debt along the way and have just as little wiggle room as before.

4. Practice smart grocery shopping

Food… it’s one of the biggest portions of any budget. And if you’re not careful, it can be one of the biggest drains on your wallet.

But luckily, there are a few things you can do to ensure that you stay smart with your money when buying groceries.

Create a grocery budget

Set a strict weekly grocery budget. When you know how much you can spend on groceries, you can then plan your weekly menu around it.

Once you know what all you need, you can go shopping and keep a running tally as you shop to ensure you’re on track.

I tend to do this in my head, rounding for each item. However, writing it down as you go would probably work best for most people.

Make a list… and never deviate

Never go to the grocery store without a list. If you go to the store with a ballpark idea in mind, you don’t have a true ide of what you need.

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You’re not well-researched. You don’t know what the sales are. As a result, you’re going to make decisions on the fly.

These impulse decisions will lead to overspending, which will derail your grocery budget.

Eat before going grocery shopping

It’s also important to eat prior to going to the grocery store. Hunger is a powerful force.

If you’re shopping on an empty stomach, everything is going to look good. In particular, you may find a lot of ready-made, processed snacks will look enticing.

After all, you’re hungry now and that food is easily available. So subconsciously, you may lean towards those items.

Unfortunately, not only are those items typically less healthy, but they’re likely more expensive. You pay for convenience.

However, when you eat prior to shopping, then you’ll shop with a clear mind. Your hunger won’t cloud your judgement, influencing you to make poor decisions like a cartoon devil resting on your shoulder whispering in your ear.

This makes it much easier to stick to your grocery plan.

5. Cancel your gym membership

Now that you’re all set on your food, it’s time to get smart about managing your budget in terms of physical fitness. And let’s begin by avoiding the gym. The gym bill, that is.

The average gym membership costs around $60 per month. That’s $720 a year.

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Yet, two out of three gym memberships go unused. That means two-thirds of people who have a gym membership are literally giving away almost a thousand bucks a year. It’s crazy!

I recommend seeking an alternative. One good alternative is to look into fitness streaming services.

Streaming services allow you to stream hundreds of workouts like Insanity and p90x, right in your own home for around $10-20 a month. That’s $40-50 less a month than the average gym membership.

Of course, then there’s the free option. The internet is full of free workouts that you can do on your own with minimal or no equipment.

For example, there’s the Couch to 5K program, that I personally used a decade ago to ease myself from couch potato to running my first 5K race. If I could do it, anyone could.

Then there are free resources like reddit that have limitless information on workouts. The Fitness subreddit has done all the research for you, populating workout tips and detailed workout routines for anyone to use in their wiki.

There are several routines that require no equipment. And you can join in on the subreddit to become part of the community, making it easier for those seeking comraderie and encouragement in their fitness goals. All for free.

It’s baby steps… And baby steps can start now!

I’ve never met anyone that can’t stand to be a bit smarter with their money. And on the flip side, anyone can get smarter with their money. But remember, it doesn’t happen all at once.

Begin by fighting your impulses. Prepare for the week and be smart at the store. And cut monthly expenses like gym memberships that are overpriced and you probably aren’t getting your money’s worth out of anyway.

The devil is in the details. And the details can change your lifestyle and prep you for a financially independent future.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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