Money and Finance: 6 Habits To Effective Credit Card Management

Managing your finances and credit is something everyone should plan for, work hard at and stay on top of. Good financial management allows you to live a successful and less stress free life. Below are six ways to effectively manage credit card debt and keep your finances in order.

1. Create and stick to a budget.

Set a budget based on your needs, bills, credit owed and obligations. It should be based on your income, investment and money that comes into your home, Avoid putting wants on that budget list as they can soon become a burden of spending habits that can take things out of control.

2. Borrow only what you can afford to pay back

You should try to pay cash and only borrow what is needed and absolutely necessary. Getting into credit card and loan debt that you cannot pay more than the minimums on will catch up with you and make your financial situation really bad quickly. Living with your head barely above water is no way to go thru life.

3. Pay your bills on time

It is very important to pay your bills on time every month. Not only will you avoid late fees, but a large part of your credit score depends on how timely you are with bill payments. Making on time payments builds credit history, keeps you on track to financial success and allows you to live a good life free of late payments, phone calls, emails and letters demanding money.

4. Carry credit card balances responsibly

Sometimes, you might not be able to pay your balance in full. It’s okay to carry a balance on your card, but if you do, be sure that you’re making payments on time each month, are paying more than the minimum payment whenever possible, and aiming to keep your balance below around 30 percent of your credit limit at any time. Even if you pay your balance in full each month, getting too near to your credit limit can be a flag to potential lenders.

5. Check your credit reports at least once each year

Keep an eye on your credit reports. This will help you catch and correct potentially costly errors such as fraudulent accounts you don’t recognize, loans you’ve paid off but still show up as “open,” and any incorrect personal information such as your address, employer, or marital status.

Everyone is entitled to ask for a free copy of their credit report from each of the nationwide consumer credit reporting companies—Equifax®, Experian®, and TransUnion®—once every 12 months. Your free reports can be requested by phone, by mail, or by visiting  www.annualcreditreport.com.

6. Take advantage of technology and tools to avoid credit pitfalls

Many credit card companies and banks offer free, easy-to-use tools help keep you in control of your accounts. These can include

  • Online, mobile and phone access to your account, and bill payment options
  • Statement alerts by text, e-mail, or phone
  • Instant, free transfers to and from your other accounts
  • Free transfers to your account from most other banks and brokerage firms

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