lifestyle

“I learned the hard way how to use credit cards like a proper adult.”

Westpac
Thanks to our brand partner, Westpac

What can I say?

I was young and dumb and enjoying life. I had a job, a couple of credit cards and a full and active social life requiring lots of money for clothes and my favourite late night cafe that had the best pumpkin soup I’d ever tasted and a warm chocolate brownie I still dream about.

Then, you know how it goes… you meet someone and start a life together. You want to buy a house and fill it with nice things. You want to start a family and have fun together. So you have to start being more responsible with your money. You have to start keeping track of what you are earning, what you are spending and make the necessary adjustments to ensure you always have money for groceries and phone bills and the occasional night out.

I’d had my fun so I was ready to make the necessary changes. It was actually a lot of fun and I got really good at monitoring how much we were earning and how we were spending it. I even started using my credit card like a proper adult.

Here’s how I did it.

I got myself a pile of paper, one of my favourite pens, a manila folder and all of my outstanding bills. I wrote down what I was earning, what my bills were and started trying to live within my means.

how to use a credit card
“I got myself a pile of paper, one of my favourite pens, a manila folder and all of my outstanding bills. I wrote down what I was earning, what my bills were and started trying to live within my means.” Image via iStock.

I made a few rookie errors. I budgeted too tightly, allowing no wiggle room whatsoever and leaving myself with no money for fun. I just wanted to save as much as I could and pay off my credit cards and set myself up on a path to financial security.

Can you tell that I was reading a lot of books about financial security?

I also became obsessed with TV shows dealing with family budgets and I used an online calculator to figure out how to pay off my credit card at a rate that I could handle.

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Then I applied for a low interest credit card and transferred the balance of my two, more expensive cards onto it and focused on paying as much money onto it as I could. I knew that by transferring to a low interest credit card I could pay it off faster. I did, and it was such a satisfying process.

My next step was to set up an automatic payment onto my credit card so I never forgot to make my monthly payment and so I never risked being charged a late fee.

how to use a credit card
“Then I applied for a low interest credit card and transferred the balance of my two, more expensive cards onto it and focused on paying as much money onto it as I could.” Image via iStock.

I started making full use of my credit card rewards program and monitored how many points I had earned, saving them up for special occasions. Normally I’d redeem them for books of movie tickets because we went to the movies so often. These days I normally redeem them for toys for the kids, or things like new bathroom scales.

Rewards programs can be so much fun.

I also keep an eye on better credit card deals, in case I find one that offers better conditions than my current credit card. There are offers like 55 days interest free, which really helps with unexpected bills, and even competitive interest rates. When it comes to sticking to a budget, every little bit counts.

I love having a credit card now that I’ve learned how to use it responsibly. It’s so easy and convenient. Credit cards are a great tool for our busy lives as long as they are used well. It’s never too late to become responsible when it comes to credit cards. If I can do it anyone can.

How do you manage your budget?

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