Parents, more so than any other demographic, will often find their expenditure to be too much. School uniforms, a hefty weekly food bill and a broken down washer are just some of the things that cause them stress. Where they're financial troubles, there are financial solutions, and credit cards are one of the most common.
They’re useful, but dangerous if used incorrectly or excessively. They can negatively affect your credit score, so that new mortgage or phone contract will be inaccessible to you. You can end up paying a lot more than you originally used due to high-interest rates. Rather than saving you a bit of stress, they can add onto it if not used correctly.
That being said, there are ways to use credit cards and be smart about it. As parents, we have to stay strong financially in order to fully support our families and children. Credit cards are useful, and this article will run down a few ways that you can use them without increasing stress. It just takes a pinch of savvy!
Read the fine print!!
With a child tugging on one arm and the other arm cooking tea, it’s probably the last thing you want to do. But reading the terms and conditions of a credit card contract can save you a ton of hassle later. In fact, just 7% of people actually read the fine print, and 20% said they caused problems by not doing so.
When the kids are in bed and your work is done, take 15 or 20 minutes to read up on the credit card you’re considering. Late payments and interest aren’t the only two ways for companies to charge you, and these other ways will be in the T’s & C’s. Interest on balance transfers and cash advances are often not listed upfront, so take the time to do some research.
Get a stronger credit score
Building a good credit score can take months if not years, and it’s all down to how quickly you make payments. Even that mobile phone bill you kept missing payments for as a teenager can be affecting you badly now.
A good credit score can open your world up to a whole host of opportunities. Lenders will look upon you favourably and you’ll be more likely to be approved for things like mortgages. However, as a busy parent, you’ll want to fix that credit score a bit quicker. Luckily, there are ways to do so.
A credit repair agency could be the solution you seek, and they will do as their name suggests. Read up on different agencies, check reviews and listings, to see which is right for you. For example, The Credit People review shows you that they have a money back guarantee, so if you aren’t sure you can always be refunded.
Above all, weigh up your options. How long can you afford to carry on with a bad credit score? Can you qualify for that loan with your current financial state? You may have a huge payment coming up that you need to make, and this will only make things worse.
Don’t be so hasty to close that account
Another thing I’ve seen parents do in order to put that debt to the back of their mind is to just close their credit card account. Closed credit cards will still affect your score for many years, so this isn’t the way to tackle the problem. Additionally, closing a card with a positive balance can affect you, negatively. Closing off a positive account will, in some cases, cause your credit score to drop consistently over time.
This ties back into the fine print and the terms and conditions. Something like this will be in them! So don’t be so hasty. If you are keeping up with payments and all is well, why close the account? Instead of closing the account to remove spending temptation, why not just hide your cards? Credit cards can be a pain, but they can also be a savior, a tool for us to save money in a time of need.
In short, credit cards can be good, but they can also be bad. It depends on you as a parent, how you use them and how stable you are financially. Of course, in life, there will always be a need to borrow money and make quick payments, but that doesn’t mean you have to be careless with them.
Hopefully you’ve taken these tips on board and are on your way to a brighter financial future! If you have any smart credit card tips I missed, please share them in the comments.