There are those who choose any random credit card, rack up a big bill and then spend years trying to pay it off. This is one of the worst ways to screw up your financial health as well as stress yourself out over how you’re going to pay it back. It’s almost as if your credit cards have control of you rather than the other way around. It’s especially true after the holidays if you’ve racked up even more debt on your credit cards.
You’re certainly not alone if you feel this way as I’ve felt the same in the past on more than one occasion. Chances are improving your finances is at the top of your list of New Year’s resolutions and before you feel overwhelmed and convince yourself you can’t make changes, know that it’s absolutely possible that you can, and one of the best ways to go about it is to take back control of your credit cards.
Those who stick to their financial resolutions make a plan right from the beginning and develop healthy habits that they know they can stick to all year round. So how can you take back control of your credit cards this year and improve your finances?
Lower Your Interest Rate
At least once a year, I call up my credit card companies and ask if they can lower my interest rate. At the beginning of the year, spend a few minutes to call each of your credit card companies and see if they could help you out. Many will be willing to do so, especially if you’re a long-standing customer who has a good record of paying on time.
Make a Pay Off Plan
If you’re one of the many who are carrying credit card balances, make a plan as soon as possible for how you’re going to pay them off. Whether you write out how you’re going to earn extra money to pay down the balances or you figure out how much extra you can pay that’s more than your minimum, it can help you make some big changes.
Delete Your Saved Cards
Having your credit cards saved on various shopping sites is a danger waiting to happen. It’s easy to go on the site and at the press of a button order something you really didn’t need. Go through every website that you’ve been shopping on and clear out your credit card numbers. The next time you go to make a spontaneous purchase, you’ll have time to think twice about it since you’ll have to manually enter in the credit card number.
Review Your Statements
Ever since I had a fraudulent charge on my credit card, I’ve made sure to review my statements every month. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that it’ll never happen to you, because I thought the same thing. Take a few minutes each month to check out your statements and make sure there’s nothing strange going on.
Change Your Payment Due Date
Did you know you can change the payment due date on your credit card? I didn’t either up until two years ago. I was able to change it to a date that’s more convenient for me than the one the company initially set up. Figure out a date that works for you and consider switching things around.
Get Your Cards Out of Sight
Instead of having your credit cards easily accessible in your wallet, get them out of sight so they’re not so tempting to use. If you normally pay bills with them, consider ordering bank checks instead and paying your bills through that method so you’re not racking up additional debt and interest on your credit cards.
Here are some ways to make sure your cards are nowhere near you:
- Freeze them – Encase the credit cards in a block of ice and shove them in your freezer so you won’t be able to get your hands on them unless you have a blowtorch or ice pick.
- Cut them up – Sounds a little drastic? Maybe it is, but it can also prevent you from using them unless you order a replacement card.
- Give them to your spouse – Let your spouse hold onto your credit cards for you. You’ll probably pass up on asking to use them and instead, use the cash you have on hand or forgo the purchase altogether. It can help you develop healthier spending habits.
- Put them in a safe – Almost everyone has a fireproof safe in their home and if you’re one of them, it’s time to lock up your cards. Sure you’ll know the combo, but you’ll have time to change your mind before you get in there.
Before you get intimidated at all the changes regarding your credit cards, think about all the benefits. You’ll be able to knock down your balance, save yourself quite a bit on interest and keep your financial New Year’s resolutions. By the end of the year, you could very well have your finances in better condition than you ever thought possible.
Lauren Romano is a freelancer who spends her free time with family and friends in New Jersey. When she’s not writing, she’s browsing through cute animal pictures, some of which appear on the products on www.buychecksbymail.com. She has an addiction to sour jelly beans and crime TV shows.