It is easy to fall deeper into debt if you aren’t regularly monitoring your finances and spending. Credit cards are one of the most readily available and dangerous tools for unsuspecting consumers. In Canada, nearly half of all credit card holders carry some credit card debt. Many cards offer high spending limits that go hand-in-hand with high interest rates, as well as optional cash withdrawals that come with even higher interest rates.
For many folks however, credit cards provide a useful way to establish a good credit rating so they can borrow at favourable rates or easily make larger purchases later on, such as a vehicle or home. They are also necessary for practical uses like rental cars or hotel reservations.
One of the reasons credit cards are so popular is that they allow you to immediately possess the items you desire, even if you are unable to actually pay for them. Cards allow you to easily overspend and then hit you with a high interest rate. In the event that you are unable to quickly pay off your balance, you may find yourself paying the monthly minimum and watching the outstanding balance grow. The longer you maintain a balance the harder it is to pay it down, especially when you keep relying on the card for unplanned purchases. While it’s easy to get carried away and spend more then you have, it is possible to use credit cards in a financially responsible manner.
Use Your Card for Smaller Purchases
One of the easiest ways to develop a strong credit bureau and stay out of debt is to use your credit card for smaller, more manageable purchases. Using your credit cards for small purchases, like bread and milk, ensures that the balance due on your card stays at a manageable level. This allows you to pay the balance off every month so your debt remains low and your credit score rises. In addition, when you continuously pay your balance off on time and in full, creditors see that you are a financially responsible and can be trusted to pay off your debts.
Monitor and Budget
Monitor and budget use of your credit card as closely as you do your other monthly expenses. If you don’t have a budget for your credit cards and want to create one, a great way to get a handle on how much money you spend each month is by simply reviewing your credit cards expenses. Access all of your credit card information online, or with paper statements if you prefer. Track your spending for a month then review and look at areas where you can cut back. Create a manageable budget based on the results.
Additionally, if you don’t have a monthly budget in place, consider creating one. The savings you find when you eliminate wasteful spending can be used to help pay any credit card debt down.
Pay with Cash
It is way too easy to use your credit card as if it is cash. Unfortunately, with delayed payments, debt creeps up on you and often can’t be paid off if you are caught off guard by end-of-month billing surprises. The best option, especially when trying to reduce your debt, is to pay with cash rather than credit. Overall, studies show that we tend to spend more on everything we buy when we pay for things with credit.
Rather than relying on your credit card as an open-ended line of credit, use it to make purchases that you can pay off in a timely manner. If you need to make a larger purchase, organize your finances ahead of time and have a plan in place to pay the amount down efficiently. And finally, start saving! These days, it’s too easy to just put purchases on a card. Stop relying on credit cards for everything and create a saving plan and long-term savings goals.
If you are dealing with an overwhelming amount of credit card debt and feel like you are fighting an uphill battle, give 4 Pillars of Muskoka/Parry Sound a call today. Our highly trained debt consultants provide solutions and help you get your finances back on track.