My wife and I have several credit cards, however, we never keep a balance and avoid any and all finance charges by paying our statements in full each month. We don’t necessary subscribe to the idea that you shouldn’t have any credit cards, but everyone needs to understand and use them responsibly in order to prevent falling further into debt. Who knew that a little piece of plastic we call a credit card could cause so much havoc on our finances. Don’t forget how having a credit card (or not) can affect your FICO score.
So what types of excuses have we used in order for us to fool ourselves into using that credit card, just once more? Here is a short list of ten common excuses for unplanned charges on our credit cards:
1. You find a bargain that you can’t pass up.
It happens all the time, you are just in the right place at the right time. Or are you? You see a sale on something and figure now is the time to buy, but it wasn’t in your budget this month. Do you really need this item now and are you really saving enough to justify this spontaneous purchase?
Buying something on credit for something you don’t need will never really justify saving money.
2. The rewards from credit card purchases are worth it.
My wife and I only use credit cards that offer bonus points/cash back from certain purchases such as gas and groceries. I have to tell you, it has been working out great. In the end, you have to remember that there is a reason why credit companies offer these types of reward programs. They want your business and your interest.
In order for you to really capitalize on the rewards is to avoid any and all interest charges by paying off your balance each month. If not, you’re falling into the ‘free’ rewards trap and ensnares you into further debt.
3. The 0% introductory rate is big help when making big purchases.
Sometimes when we are looking at getting things we can’t afford, we look for help. That help often comes in looking for cards with an initial 0% introductory rate. Up front, we say we’ll pay off the balance, but in reality, we get sucked into buying even more until the period is over and you’re stuck with massive finance charges.
The same goes for 0% balance transfers. Sure, some people can avoid paying any interest by transferring credit debt from card to card, but if you forget for any period of time and you’re stuck with more high interest debt. Avoid the 0% interest trap!
4. It’s for an emergency!
So you have an emergency fund, or maybe not, but there comes along a purchase, such as a home repair, that you decide might be best to charge it instead of tapping into your emergency fund. You’d like to keep your emergency fund intact and cheat just this once into charging the expense. It’ll only happen once, right?
5. We’ve been good, so time to treat ourselves.
It’s been a long time since we’ve given ourselves a break and took a vacation. Maybe you had that eye on the latest iPhone that Apple released. You’ve worked hard for you money and now it’s time to buy something for yourself. By charging it, you almost taking away a little of the guilt since you don’t see the immediate impact of seeing the funds quickly disappear from the bank account.
Just because you think you deserve it, it doesn’t mean that suddenly you are immune to any finance charges on your credit card you may incur.
6. I’ll start paying off my debt next month.
Actions speak louder than words. Sometimes we can justify a purchase by saying to ourselves that we are going to make changes to our budget to have the additional funds to pay down that debt. Months go by and it never happens. You need to have the attitude to start NOW or you may fall victim to the continuous cycle of credit card debt. It’s time to follow through to the promise you made to yourself to achieve your goals of being debt free.
7. I’m going to get a raise soon.
‘It’s my review next month and I’ll be sure to get a raise. Might as well start spending money right now since I’ll have the funds to pay it off once I get that raise.’
That is the wrong attitude to have when getting a raise, even if you get a raise since is getting more common in this economic crisis that raises are becoming scarce. It seems that getting more money causes even more problems, like the saying goes ‘mo money, mo problems’. Getting that additional cash flow should be put towards current debt, not making further debt.
8. This is the last time.
You have your plan of not using your credit cards until you pay off the balance. But wait, before that, I just need to make one more additional purchase. One more purchase won’t hurt, right? Hook, line and sinker; you’ve just avoided following through with your plan of paying off your debt. Next time is always the last time until you cut up your cards for good until your debt is gone.
9. The payments are small.
You see the signs everywhere around you. ‘You can have this TV or computer for only $40 month!’ What the sign won’t tell you is that you could be ending up paying 25% for the TV because of all the finance charges you’ve racked up by paying the minimums each month. If you can’t afford it now, you really shouldn’t consider any of the gimics stores try and lure you in with.
10. It’s only for a small purchase.
You have that time where you don’t have enough cash on you, so you are forced to use your card. Time after time, the small charges will be adding up. If you already had a balance on your card to begin with, you are fighting the uphill battle again by becoming debt free. You don’t want that $6 lunch to turn into a $7 lunch month after month. Try and use cash for small purchases as much as possible, especially if there is no gain in making the credit card purchase.
It almost seems like I can recount an experience for every one at some point in my life. As I said earlier, I’m proud to say we finally did overcome our credit card debt, so I’m hopeful many of these excuses are long behind us as a newlywed couple with debt.
How many of these excuses have you used when trying to justify the use of your credit card? Are there any other excuses that you’ve used to swipe that credit card once more?