I have been in a serious battle the past few months – a real serious battle, that is with my credit card bills! It started when I was spending my maternity leave and had nothing much to do except for caring of my newborn, waiting for my stitches to heal and surfing the Internet, especially online shopping sites. That habit of online shopping carried on until last month when finally, I was given by the mister a budget for my well, long overdue shopping. Okay, I do earn my own money but with the amount I was about to spend, I felt like I needed a clearance from the mister to dispense such amount. 🙂
Anyway, to cut the long bills, este story short, I did overspend and this September I had to remind myself of the proper and smart way of using credit cards so that I won’t fall into the same pit again in the future especially now that e-commerce is getting not just bigger but also better and more tempting day by day. Plus, my obsession has transcended from fashionable clothes and bags into more expensive items such as jewelries.
Here is how I plan to control and handle properly my credit card use after paying them in full (hurting my pockets, in the process):
Make a visible list of your purchases. You know what’s addicting with online shopping? It’s the illusion of having money to spend or perceived money ownership. It is so easy to commit the money you are yet to receive in paying for your online sprees. Sobrang dali lang gumastos at umabot sa maximum credit limit! Muntik na ako, promise! Because of my consecutive, simultaneous and numerous purchases, it has become difficult to remember them all. Monitor your credit card charges. How to do that? Write it down. I have done this before and I am doing it again now. I stick a little post-it note to my credit cards and write down every purchase that I make with it (with dates, short details, and amount). That way, I would think twice before the next swipe!
Schedule your purchases. As you may have already known, the best date to swipe that plastic card is right after the cut-off date. By doing so, you’re maximizing its use by deferring payment for at least a month and a half. That gives you ample time to save up for the full amount due come billing statements. It’s also a good test of patience and discipline. One time, I’ve been itching to buy this gold ring online but I have had several swipes already and it’s not yet the cut-off date. I had to summon all the strength I could get to take my mind off that ring. I ended up buying that ring but only after two months.
Do not buy something if you do not have the cash to buy it. That’s really the first principle to live by when it comes to credit cards. Always, always pay in full. Paying interest and late charges is a waste of your hard-earned money. On the other hand, paying in full not only keeps you out of debts (well, because you won’t swipe your card if you know you cannot pay your purchases in full come the due date) but also gives you good credit history, making you eligible for waived annual fees for life. Live within or below your means. Credit cards are not meant to upgrade your lifestyle. Remember that!
However, there are instances when it’s okay not to pay in full. But, they are only two. The only instances when you can skip paying in full are zero-interest installment purchases and deferred charges. These are usually applicable for big-ticket items such as home appliances.
Never use credit cards to pay for food. Well, this one is personal. I never liked the idea of eating food that is technically not yet paid. Imagine, nabusog ka na, na-digest mo na, nailbas mo na at lahat, hindi pa rin bayad. Tsk. Tsk.
Apply for auto-debit when it comes to your monthly bills. At this age when bills are piling up, it’s easier to manage our monthly financial responsibilities with the help of automatic debit in credit cards. Wala ka nang makakalimutang bayaran, convenient pa kasi isang bayaran na lang dahil pasok na lahat sa credit card. Like me, I pay for two water bills, one electric bill, Internet broadband and charitable organizations. And, it is so much easier to pay them all by paying my credit cards. I need not go to payment centers with my cold cash and I need not wait, keep or bring my statement of accounts.
Credit cards per se are not evils. They are, for me, still considered as financial tools. They can help us or break us. They speak of one’s financial independence and maturity and shows not only a person’s credit records but also his/her character. How we use it is what’s important. Use it well. Charge wisely. Swipe with discipline. Then, there is nothing to be afraid of especially amid an industry as lucrative and attractive as online shopping.