Nobody sets out to rack up credit card debt, but once you stop paying off your balance every month it becomes easier and easier to pay less and less. Before you know it, you're paying $20 bucks over the minimum, vowing (unsuccessfully) each month to stop charging anything else to the card. All too soon, you've accumulated a couple grand in credit card debt, and while you console yourself with the fact that this is about the average for Americans who carry a balance on their cards, the sad reality is that credit card debt is a cherry on top of the debt sundae holding you back from getting on with life.
Even if you've managed to reign in charging your lifestyle, as long as you carry revolving debt on your credit card, every dollar you spend on a cash purchase instead using ti to pay down your balance prolongs your agony. I charged the haircut I got this morning, the $3.79 I spent at Taco Bell ,and every video game I own! I may as well pay off a chunk of my debt and then charge these purchases to the credit card. At least then I'd save some money on the interest charges.
Don't miss the rest of our series on 15 Ways to Ruin Your Financial Future!
When it comes down to it, it's important to remember that just because I blog on personal finance doesn't mean I make all the right decisions when it comes to crunch time. Of all of the financial decisions I have made, this lingering credit card debt is the most bothersome. In my case, the debt has added to the reasons we haven't purchased a house. For a few close friends, credit card debt has led to delayed car purchases and relationship strife.
If you haven't racked up credit card debt yet, take this warning to heart and pay off your balance every month. If you've slipped like me and accrued a balance, then there are a few steps you can take to start making a better financial future. The first thing I did was to stop buying so much stuff. I still have my vices, but I don't spend as much on them now. The next thing I did was to transfer the balance to another card with a 0% offer for a year and a cap on the balance transfer fees. The final step is to start making regular payments way above the minimum in order to knock the debt out. If you don't have the extra money, I'd suggest you start looking for a second or third job!