I am an over 40 year old college student, returning to school after many years. I have learned a lot over the years, including how not to manage money. Credit cards are a trap for many who aren’t aware of the pitfalls of using them.
In addition to attending online college, I am working two jobs, one full time and one part time, to pay off my credit card debt. I was married and thought I could spend as much as I wanted. I traveled and bought clothing, shoes, etc., all using credit cards. When I wanted to go out to eat or have drinks and was short on cash, I simply charged it. When my marriage ended, I lost half of my income but most of my debt remained. So, here I am, working two jobs and trying to unbury myself from my debt.
Credit cards are a terrible trap. It is so easy to go shopping and think you will only charge one thing, or charge your drinks or food, because you work hard and deserve it. Soon your total amount spent starts to pile up. After you do not pay in full for 30 days, you start paying interest on what you spent. Month after month it snowballs, until you have maxed out the spending limit. Now you have no money to shop or go out, and more bills to pay.
My advice is to only have one major credit card, and only use the card in case of an emergency. By emergency, I don’t mean new shoes or outfit you must have, or to attend a concert. Only use the card for a real emergency, your car breaks down, or emergency travel, etc. Give the card to someone you trust if you have to, and tell them to only give it back for a true emergency.
I only wish I would have educated myself about the credit trap years ago. Had I been smart with my money, I wouldn’t be working 55 hours a week trying to stay on top of my bills. Get an education, set a payment schedule for your student loans, and let that be your only debt until paid off, other than your one emergency card. Don’t fall into the mindset that you need anything materialistic. Most purchases we make are not thought out, and if you take your time and wait a few days, you will realize you were smart not to buy something. Wait until you have the cash to pay for it.
I have finally stopped charging, and am making progress paying off my debt. My cards are all cut up, and every extra penny I have goes toward paying my bills. My highest interest rate card is the one I am trying to pay off first, and I will do it. It took me years to get to where I am with building up my debt, and I am paying it off but that will also take several years. Heed my warning, and don’t start digging yourself into the credit card trap!