Now that the holidays are over, it can only mean one thing – the credit card bills are coming due. If you went overboard for the holidays and are dreading the impending bills, these tips will help you both save money, and pay down your credit card debt as soon as possible.
Managing Your Credit Cards
Be sure to limit the number of credit cards you hold. Having too many credit cards with balances can do a lot of harm to your credit. Many people think they would only be given the amount of credit that is based on their earnings, but this is not true.
When it comes to credit cards, it is imperative that you read the contract and fine print. If there’s an offer for a pre-approved credit card or if a person says they can help you get a card, get all of the details beforehand. Be aware of how much the interest rates are going to be, and how much time it will take you to pay for it. Finding out about these details, including other details like grace periods and add-on fees, will help you stay out in front of your payments.
When you are getting your first credit card, or any card for that matter, make sure you pay close attention to the payment schedule, interest rate, and all terms and conditions. Many people neglect to read this information, but it is definitely to your benefit if you take the time to read through it.
Do not sign up for a credit card because you see it as a way to fit in or as a status symbol. While it may seem like fun to be able to pull it out and pay for things when you have no money, you will regret it when it is time to pay the credit card company back.
If you can, pay your minimum payment on time each month to avoid more fees. If you can afford to, pay more than the minimum payment so that you can reduce the interest fees. Just be sure to pay the minimum amount before the due date.
Do not let errors on your credit card statements go unchecked. You need to get in touch with your credit card company the minute you notice a charge that you don’t recognize. Refusing to pay these mystery charges and not resolving it quickly can result in late or missed payments showing up on your credit report. Errors on your credit report can even negatively impact your credit history for years to come. Dealing with these errors at this stage may even require the assistance of an attorney. Don’t let things escalate to that stage – handle them as early as possible.
Verify all fees and charges associated with a potential credit card, rather than just the APR and interest rates. Sometimes, all the additional fees and charges end up making the card too expensive.
Department store cards are tempting, but when trying to improve your credit and keep a great score, you need to keep in mind that you don’t want a credit card for everything. Department store cards can only be used at that specific store. It is their way of getting you to spend more money at that specific location. Get a card that you can use anywhere.
Saving Money with Coupons
Know the coupon rules. A good way to save money is when stores put out double coupons. You can save twice as much money when these coupons are available. However, there are usually restrictions to use so it’s best that you know ahead of time before you go and try to use it.
Some stores will double or triple manufacturers coupons. If you happen to be a coupon novice, just make a few inquiries about which local stores offer such deals. You can get information and pointers from your family members and friends, as well as colleagues, and even your neighbors.
Don’t forget to “like” your favorite brands on Facebook. You can often receive special publicity updates involving additional coupons this way. You don’t want to miss out on the thank you coupons that bring great savings, so watch their accounts carefully.
Never buy an item simply because you have a great coupon for it. Only buy items you need. If a coupon offers great savings, you may feel tempted to go ahead and use it. Resist that temptation. You’re using coupons to save money. Don’t waste your income on things you don’t even need.
Those of you who are bargain shoppers and who love to use coupons to save would be wise to browse through a store’s clearance section. The savings you can get with a clearance item coupled with a coupon can be quite significant. Make sure to see if any items on clearance are still eligible for coupon use.
Go online. There are a lot of coupons on the Internet that aren’t available in your local papers. Not only that, but some companies offer Internet only deals that others are not going to get. Before you buy anything, check online and do a search to find any coupons available.
Putting Savings to Good Use
Coupons are great for saving money – but the real trick is to act as if you haven’t saved a thing. Once you’ve made sure you are on top of your cards and statements, and start saving money by using coupons, you need to put all of those savings directly into paying off your existing credit card debt. Save your receipts for the week, and total up how much you saved. Then, take that amount, and set it aside to apply towards your credit card debt at the end of the month. Once you dig yourself out of credit card debt, this extra money can go into savings. But, until then, interest charges mean you’re better off putting it all towards debt rather than savings.
For even more tips on paying down holiday debt, check out the following links:
- 6 ways to NOT Pay off Holiday Credit Card Debt
- 8 Ways to Pay Down Holiday Debt Quickly
- 7 Easy Steps to Pay Off Debt
- How Do I Get Out of Holiday Debt?