It's time to talk about the stuff no one wants to talk about…debt! Believe it or not, it's actually more common for people to have some form of debt than to not have any debt, even though we would all love to be in the "no debt club".
Whether it's credit card debt, student loan debt or medical debt it all feels the same, and it's not a good feeling. The everyday overwhelming feeling of worry and stress and knowing that, for the most part, you got yourself into this mess. Even worse, debt isn't just the dirty little secret you keep hidden in your closest, it's out there for the world to see in the form of your credit score. When you fall into debt with a credit card, so many doors of possibilities slam closed. Now do not fret entirely, you can get yourself out of debt and raise your credit score! Getting out of debt won't be half as easy as falling into debt, but nonetheless, it's possible.
Since debt and credit generally go hand in hand, let's first talk about why you should care about your credit score. Having a good or even decent credit score will make your life so much easier! A good credit score could allow you to rent an apartment without a need for a cosigner, help you get a car loan and help you if you need to finance a car. Having a good credit score will make you more likely to get a lower interest rate, meaning you'll be paying less!
Knowing your credit score is the first step to raising your credit score. Credit Sesame is a free online tool that helps you access and understand your credit all on one platform and it's very easy to use! In order to use your credit to your advantage, you need to first have credit, which means opening up a credit card. The easiest way to build your credit is by paying monthly expenses on time. Paying your rent and loans will raise your credit score, but in order to maintain a good score, you need to make sure you're consistent with your payments. If you don't think you can handle paying off a credit card on time, then you might want to consider sticking to a debit card for now.
Now let's talk about credit card debt. We're all going to have highs and lows in our life, things that we're proud of and things that we're not so proud of. We're all human and we make mistakes, but unfortunately being irresponsible with a credit card can get us into some deep debt. People often get a credit card and are very consistent in the beginning and then start to slip later, a good rule of thumb to follow to stay out of the hole of debt is to only put things on your credit card that you know you could put on your debit card if you wanted to. If you don't have that kind of money in your checking account, don't buy it.
Debt grows the longer you have it because of the interest rate attached to the card. This is why you should always pay at least the minimum payment on your card when you're in debt, but in reality, every dollar you can put towards your credit debt helps because it'll get you that much closer to being debt free. The Citi Simplicity card offers no late fees, no penalty rates and no annual fees, which makes it a great option for your first credit card. If you're able to stick with one card, do that because the more cards you have opens up more chances for debt. If you do have multiple cards with debt always pay the card with the higher interest rate off first.
If you're worried about falling into debt but want to build or maintain your credit score use your card only for small payment or travel if you take trips frequently you can get yourself some frequent flyer miles! Another tip to stay out of debt is to leave your credit cards at home when you go shopping and don't have your credit information saved to your computer so you can't be tempted to buy something on your credit card!
It is very possible to stay out of debt, but it's also possible to get yourself out of debt, and you can do both! If you're in debt don't give up on yourself because the day that you're debt free will make all the planning and paying off your debt so worth it, and hopefully, it'll be a great learning experience so you'll never be in debt again!