Warning Signs That Atlanta Credit Card Users Should Watch for When Paying With Plastic
Credit cards have their pros and cons. On the one hand, credit is convenient. You don't need exact change, you don't have to stop at the ATM and you get a written record of all your credit purchases at the end of the month, no tracking tools necessary. On the other hand, as many of us know too well, credit cards can be the fast track to too much debt.
So how can Atlanta credit users find middle ground? According to CreditCards.com, it's all about watching out for a few key warning signs.
Credit isn't a problem if you know exactly how much you'll put on your card each month - and exactly how you'll pay it all off. It's the spontaneous purchases that lead to trouble - like when you whip out the plastic to pay for groceries because you went over budget, or use credit to pay for that snazzy new espresso machine you just discovered at Target. Think of it this way. If you don't have enough cash to cover a purchase, it's probably for a reason - either you can't afford it, don't really need it or a combination of the two. I'm not saying you shouldn't ever buy anything fun - just keep the card in your wallet long enough to let you think it through.
Keep a routine
Credit can be a good indicator of your financial health, if you let it. Let's say you always use credit to pay for gas and the phone bill, but you use cash for smaller purchases like your lunchtime sandwich or movie tickets. If you find yourself reaching for credit more and more for everyday purchases, it's a sign that you're spending more than you can afford. Rather than get caught in the credit cycle - i.e., using more credit, owing more interest and thus a higher minimum, having to put more things on credit, etc. - use your new routine as a wakeup call to review your budget and see where you can make changes.
Put credit to work for you
It's true that using credit responsibly can improve your credit score. But don't let this be your excuse to use plastic if you can't keep your spending under control - it won't work. If you can't afford payments, are nearing your credit limit or are regularly using one card to pay off another, you're better off finding a different payment method until you can get things under control. If you can't afford to go cold turkey, ask for a higher minimum or more affordable card for purchases you absolutely must make on credit, and cut back where you can.
Of course, there are other times when credit can help or hurt your finances - and everyone's situation is a bit different. Ultimately, it's within your power to decide how much credit you can handle. And if you've already racked up large credit card debts? It's within your power to find a solution - and bankruptcy might be it. Our Atlanta bankruptcy attorneys can find a bankruptcy plan that's right for you when you try a free personal debt analysis.