In last month's Financial Focus I went rather in depth about my past with credit and discussed my efforts to get a credit card for the first time in years. Thanks to using the resources at creditcardinsider.com I was able to secure a new Discover card, which I plan to use to help my build my credit rating.
Now that I have a new credit card my main focus is to figure out a workable plan to help manage my credit. One of the best ways to manage your credit card is to understand the terminology in your statement. At the How Paying a Credit Card Works page on creditinsider.com's website they define terms such as credit limit, available credit, current balance and statement balance, providing a handy reference for understanding the best ways to build good credit and make your payments on time while minimizing interest fees.
Another way I chose to help manage my credit is by making sure that I went to the discover card website and created an account whereby I can monitor the spending on my credit card much like you might monitor your bank account statements on line. I wanted something I could access at any time and not have to wait for a monthly statement and by checking my online statement almost daily I do not have to keep a paper trail of my own, which I risk misplacing or forgetting.
While it sounds easy to stay on top of things, life often times gets in the way and pushes the financial concerns we might have to the back of our minds. What I am trying to do is to prioritize the time I give to my finances by setting aside an hour each week where I review a checklist of my financial responsibilities. My checklist includes checking my credit card balance due, going over my monthly bills which include my rent payment, my gas and electric bill, my student loans for both undergraduate school and graduate school, my phone bill, and my television and internet bill. Those are a bit easier to keep track of because they have specific due dates and are generally a fixed amount each month. I also take the time to review my bank statement online to get a better hold on my grocery and fuel expenditures, as well as how much I am spending on entertainment or luxury items.
It is important to know the balances on your accounts so that you can plan accordingly for holidays and have an emergency budget for unexpected costs like a broken down vehicle or if you own a home, a maintenance repair to an appliance.
If any of our readers have any helpful tips or suggestions on how you manage your credit please feel free to share them in our comments section, so that it is something that I or our other readers might employ. Different mechanisms work for different people, so even if there is a suggestion that may not work for me, if it works for someone else who reads our blog, well, then that's the whole point of the Financial Focus posts.