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Transform Your Current Spending Habits

Nov 28, 2007
When I first got my credit card, it felt like I was a never-ending shopping spree and that I could buy the world. I thought that my salary could handle all the monthly minimum payments; after all I would be paying for the shoes, clothes, and make-up in installments. Was I ever wrong!

After barely a year, I experienced the humiliation of having a credit card payment declined; that too, in front of my family and friends. I really should have learnt the lesson then but I did not. I figured if I paid double the minimum payment, I would still be able to go my expensive hairstylist every week. As a result, my credit card bills just kept piling up.

Thank goodness, my friends intervened and helped me realize the mistakes I've made with my credit. You see, it is the thought of having so much money at your disposal, money that's not even yours, that makes spending it so much easier. I was offered a huge credit limit. I somehow felt that I had to use my card to the max.

In retrospect, I can see that I never really learnt about how I could make the best use of plastic money. In fact, not once did I hear my parents complain about finances while I was growing up. And I wish they had, because if they had given me a slight hint of trouble caused by credit cards I would have stopped myself from spending what I can.

Stories about other people filing for bankruptcy were just that for me -- tales that should arouse a little curiosity. Then there is also the fact that finance companies "forget" to tell you about finance charges, late payment charges and other kinds of fees you only thought possible in your nightmares.

Here is a little trick I learned from my mother -- after I was camped in my old bedroom, unable to pay for my rent. She advised me to spend only the amount that I could cover through cash or check.

- If you don't need it, don't buy it. This is especially useful when you go for a sale which offers fabulous discounts on stuff you don't need.

- Try not to charge everything on that piece of plastic. If you can, pay for your groceries, gas and other small utility bills in cash.

- Stay on the alert for the best bargains. Even if they're cutting off 25% from the price tag, the other store could have it at 50% off.

- Pay more than your minimum monthly payments. If you have extra cash, put it in your retirement fund or pay off some of your debts.

- You do not need dozens of credit cards. One is enough. It is never a good idea to have a number of unused cards lying around.

- Pay on time! This is the ultimate advice to being on top of credit card debt. Late payment charges will increase your debt and affect your credit rating.

- Banks offer automatic payments for credit card bills from your savings account, and it is best if you avail of this service. All you have to do is make sure that you have enough money saved up to make the payments.
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