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If you’ve experienced the lows of credit card debt and the relief and joy of finally paying it all off and coming out the other side, you’re probably very wary of even keeping your existing credit cards, let alone using them. That’s fine if you can manage it, but unfortunately, a lot of you reading this will need access to credit cards again. That’s also fine if you use them more wisely this time around.
The things is, you simply cannot blame your credit cards for your debt. They are nothing more than a tool, and it is the way you use them that makes the difference between drowning in debt and swimming in the savvy waters of a sound financial life.
So, chances are you will use your credit card again. When that happens, you need to ensure that you don’t end up back in serious debt. Here are some things that could help you with that:
Use Only in Emergencies
Using your credit card only when you really have no other option is a great way to ensure it is used responsibly. Of course, it is not always so easy – you need a real resolve to not simply whip out the plastic at every opportunity!
Lower Your Limits
If you have credit cards with high limits, then it might eventually get too tempting for you not to use them to their fullest.If you at least call up your card company and ask them to lower the limit to a much more sensible amount, then you won’t be able to do nearly as much damage to your financial life.
Apply for Low Interest Cards
If and when you decide to apply for a new credit card, make sure that you do your research and find credit cards with low interest rates. Of course, you should pay off your card in full at the end of each month, but if you occasionally neglect to do that and you have a low interest rate, it won’t be the end of the world.
Leave Your Card at Home
When you’re entering what are high-risk places for you – bars, malls, the Apple Store – leave your credit card at home and draw out only the amount of cash that you can really afford to spend. After all, you can’t go crazy with your credit card if you don’t have it with you.
Pay Off the Balance Every Month
As I mentioned above, if you’re using a credit card, you really should be paying off the totality of the balance at the end of every month. There is a massive difference between spending and paying off the minimum only and spending and settling your balance each month. The former will get you into trouble; the latter is a convenient method of paying for stuff and tracking your spending.
If you stick to these simple rules, then using your credit cards again after clearing your debt, shouldn’t be a problem and you can use your cards to gain cash back and other rewards, which will actually boost your bank balance!