Practicing credit card discipline is no easy feat. The temptation to use credit cards when cash is not readily available is just too high. All too often, there is little thought given to how the credit card bill will be paid when it is due.
However, things do not have to be this way. The key, as you may have guessed, is practicing discipline.
As long as there is credit card discipline, credit cards themselves can actually prove to be a blessing.
In this article, we share 5 key ways in which you can ensure this much-needed discipline while using credit cards.
1. Analyse and Assess all your Credit Card Purchases
The first step to ensuring financial prudence while using credit cards is to analyse and assess all purchases made on them. Before you rush to swipe your credit card on the latest iPhone, think to yourself – do you really need it? What about the regular after office get-togethers at the swanky club nearby paid for with your credit card? Is it a necessity ever Friday night?
Instances like the above occur every day, sometimes more than once. This is especially true when we are young and incomes are relatively less while temptations are quite high. This is a stage when many of us start our careers, perhaps our very first job and banks are only too happy to dole out the latest credit card to us.
After that, too many youngsters in our country quickly get sucked into a never-ending spiral of credit card debt, all because they did not analyse and assess their purchases adequately. Remember this tip and don’t fall for that trap!
2. Set a Purchase Limit for Optimal Credit Card Discipline
An ideal way to ensure optimal credit card discipline at all times is to set a strict purchase limit for yourself. To avoid temptation for excess usage, you can even set this limit to be the maximum overall credit limit that is available on your credit card.
For example, if you are just starting out on your first job, with a take-home salary of 25,000 Rupees a month, you could set your purchase limit at 10,000 Rupees or a maximum of 15,000 Rupees at best. As mentioned above, you could have the bank set your available credit limit at this figure, which really helps avoid temptations to over-purchase.
3. Always Pay in Full
A key aspect to credit card discipline which proves especially handy later on (since it becomes a habit by then) is to pay the entire bill in full. Avoid rolling over credit (leaving dues unpaid) to the maximum extent possible.
This approach also helps a lot in instilling discipline since you tend to purchase only as much as you are able to repay in full at the end of the billing cycle.
4. Carry Cash and Debit Cards with you
Yet another way in which credit card usage is minimised is by using cash and debit cards as well. This is especially true for situations where the option to pay by cash or with your debit card is readily available.
Such an approach also helps establish credit card discipline since you avoid the tendency to use your credit card excessively. With credit card usage kept to a limit, the due amount is also likely to be one that you will be able to repay with ease.
5. Limit Your Credit Card Ownership
A common mistake often made by a lot of folks is to have way too many credit cards. This brings forth undue issues including but not limited to:
- Too many due dates and billing cycles to keep up with
- Scattered points and other benefits over multiple cards
- A strong tendency to overuse (and thus misuse) this entire set of credit cards
It can be tempting to open a variety of credit cards when there are so many great offers out there. However, it is for reasons like the above that it is strongly advised to maintain just one or a maximum of two credit cards.
Sure, credit card discipline is not easy to maintain at all times but with initiatives like the above, it does get a lot easier. Building discipline towards anything takes time and credit card discipline is no exception. However, it is important to hold yourself accountable and maintain responsibility with your credit card so you do not end up with overwhelming debt.
If you ever do find yourself in debt and need to make some extra money on the side, check out these lucrative side hustles.