We live in a world where getting credit cardsis easy. One of the biggest indicators of this truth is the first thing you'll see when you go to an orientation day at your local college: booths by all the major credit card companies offering credit cards to incoming students. We also feel it every time we shop at a major department store and get hit with the "save 10% on your first purchase when you sign up for a store card" pitch.
Being bombarded on all sides with offers of credit makes it tough to resist. After all, you can "afford" to buy all the things you "need" without having to save up for it. Most of us know the dubious nature of these things, but we fall for it nonetheless. So, how do you avoid falling into those traps? Here are a few ways:
- On every credit card bill, there's a tempting little number: the minimum payment. For just a small percentage of the balance, you can forget about the bill for another month. Unfortunately, the debt piles up every time you do this, thanks to the magic of compounding interest. The lesson? Pay off the balance every month.
- It might be tempting to get a cash advance, but those come with higher interest rates that can really balloon quickly.
- If your credit card use is getting you into trouble, it may be time for emergency mode. Only use them for emergencies. Leave the cards at home. And, as a last resort, freeze them in the freezer. By the time they thaw, you might have changed your mind about the purchase.
Of course, many people find themselves in debt up to their eyeballs with seemingly no way out. That's when it might be a good idea to speak with a debt relief attorney. He or she can look at your situation and offer bankruptcy alternatives, loan modifications, debt consolidation and other options to give you a fresh financial start.