CONSIDER YOURSELF IN A RELATIONSHIP... WITH YOUR CREDIT CARD
Ok, I want you to think about relationships and new beginnings - L.O.V.E.
At the beginning, it's full of promise and big dreams. Literally, anything can happen. It's all the feels. You know what I'm talking about. You can't get enough of each other and your constantly touching and romantic day dreams fill your head full of rainbows and unicorns.
Now, think about possession of a brand. new. credit card. It has never been swiped and has that new plastic smell that retail dreams are made of. That shiny new gateway to shopping heaven hasn't left your mind since you got it. You keep stroking the new plastic toy and the thought of that first purchase...
You may be asking why this odd little comparison. Well, they both have the power of good and evil in your life. Considering that the average American has wracked up a tidy $11,000 in credit card debt you could say that many of us aren't in a particularly positive relationship with our shiny, plastic-fantastic. However, with the right management, respect and attention (just like our love lives) you can be rewarded with all your hearts desires. If you neglect either relationship, then you can expect to be left broken hearted and in a world of (debt ridden) turmoil. So what does this all mean for your pocket rocket?
Well, true love can last and lead to a lifetime of happiness. You just need to make sure that you have the right mindset and you are ready to put time, energy and love into your Visa (Amex, Mastercard - whatever your type) interest. Here's how you can invest in and treat your credit card just like you would your relationship:
Be Picky... And know what you are looking for
When it comes to love or money, you have to do your homework and understand how YOUR mind works. Don't let your brain get distracted by appearances. Get smart and take your heart out of the equation and let your head rule this match. Don't be put off by the fine print and do your research. Get to know your pretty card before you fully jump in and commit. Make sure that they:
- Fit in around your lifestyle
- What will this union cost? Do you have enough to give back on your own without harming yourself?
Get Smart - find your limit
Just because you are in a relationship, it doesn't mean that you will always be in one. If you don't set boundaries and be clear up front, you could get taken advantage of or expect too much. Know what you can give and set that limit up front (and don't be tempted to stretch 'just a little'! Having a credit card shouldn't be mistaken for an open bank account.
Find balance and keep your head in the game.
This sounds so simple. Perhaps it's one of those things that is so simple that we automatically ignore it. Considering a whopping 87% of Americans don't balance their books we can wonder what the attention is to keeping track of credit card spend. Hitting the plastic-fantastic doesn't always feel like spending money. If you spend half your time unhappy (post-purchase-regret AKA PPR) then maybe it's time to think about the habits you have gotten into. Build a strong relationship through balance - and balancing those accounts!
Pay it back
Ok, this is one relationship that will never survive if you are on the take. Seriously. Make sure that you know when payments are due and set up an automatic payment. Give yourself a limit within your limit and make sure you check in to see exactly where your balance is sitting.
Don't bank on it
See what I did there! Honestly though, you cannot use your credit card like a savings account. It also shouldn't BE your savings account. You should be able to comfortably able to survive without your credit card and have a solid emergency fund behind you. Should you need to get out of your relationship - you need to know that you can. Yes, hitting the sales give the brain a nicely little endorphine hit but when you unpack those bags and realise you have nothing to eat and pay day is another couple of days away... Things need to change. Make your credit card work for you. Understand what points or rewards you can get. Travel insurance and many other perks come with them and they can lead to a happy, healthy relationship. You just have to put the time in.