My financial success story has its unusual roots in my childhood. Growing up, my father was often laid off from the mill, particularly during winters. During these tough times, to make ends meet, my parents began putting expenses on credit cards. There were several years of this, with interest accruing all the while, because the balances were only being paid down little by little. It took a few more years to vanquish the debt for good, and my parents swore off credit cards.
As I grew older I was reminded of the past throughout several different talks about finances and repeatedly cautioned against using credit cards. Shortly after I graduated college I realized that credit would need to be a part of my life due to eventually needing auto loans and a mortgage. Believing my willpower sufficient to use the credit card sparingly and not spend money I did not have, I applied and was approved. One small benefit to my student loans had been their affect on my credit report and score. By this time I had loans that were between 1 and 4 years old and a credit score of nearly 700 at such a young age.
I felt fortunate and even more so, determined, to use it responsibly and grow my credit profile as an investment for the future. I researched the ins and outs of credit cards to make sure I would use it and never pay interest, where I discovered that I could use the card for the majority of my expenses and not pay interest as long as it was paid off on time. I began to do this, harnessing the willpower I mentioned earlier. I now realize that I have been able to responsibly use credit in large part due to the hardships faced by my family. I never spend more than I can pay and I have a healthy savings, also in large part due to being taught the necessity of saving from a young age. As another bonus, funneling expenses through credit cards generates rewards which can be used to pay off the balance.
Fast forward to the present day, I have several more cards and nearly an 800 credit score. I use them all and pay them off monthly, ultimately saving money as a result of the rewards. Several friends often ask me for advice on savings, credit, and other aspects of managing personal finances, including retirement accounts. I truly believe that if not for experiencing the tough times that credit card debt put my family through as I was growing up, I would not be as responsible at saving or using credit.