My husband and I have no credit card debt, but it wasn’t always that way. In fact, when we first started dating, he had around $3,500 in credit card debt and I had about $1,100 in credit card debt. Within a year of our relationship, my credit card debt was at $4,400. We took 9 trips our first year of dating and we would book everything on my credit card, he would give me half…and I would spend it on other items. Oh to be young, in love and not have a care in the world about money!
It was actually ridiculously easy to pay off our credit cards. All it took was a little bit of budgeting. When you’re young, making good money and have basically zero responsibilities (no kids, no mortgage, etc), it’s easy to cut back on vacations, trips to the bar and shopping. Man, looking back, I sure was living the life haha! If I remember correctly, we paid off our credit card debt in about 5 months.
Since we got married, the goal has always been to live fully off of my husband’s income and save all mine. We knew we wanted to have me stay at home with our kids, so it just made sense to buy a house off of one income and try to budget with just one income in mind. While we haven’t always stuck to that, we do come pretty close every month.
But…confession…we do still use credit cards. We use them if we are waiting on a paycheck or payment (we’re both now self-employed so “payment” would be the proper term) and necessary expenses come up (food, diapers, etc.). We also use them if there’s an “unexpected” expense, such as a car breaking down or one of our girl’s getting sick. Then, we use my income to pay off the credit card each month and save the rest. This plan has worked out perfectly for us in the past, with the exception of a few months where we knew I was making more money than normal so we spent more than normal.
How we stay out of credit card debt
We pay them off every month. I have one credit card and my husband has one credit card. If either one of us puts anything on the card, it gets paid that month before interest kicks in. I honestly do not even know our interest rates because I am that certain we will never pay it.
We don’t use them unless we know we can pay it off. Since I’m paid about a month or more out, I usually know how much money I have coming in that month. If we won’t be able to pay off the credit card, we won’t put anything on it. Plain and simple. If an emergency arises, we use the credit card and pay it off with our emergency fund (gotta rack up those points somehow!).
We do not use them for everyday expenses when we have money in our accounts. I know a lot of people who use credit cards for EVERYTHING to get points and then pay them off every month. I know myself too well and if I did that, I know I would overspend in small ways here and there. At the store, I’d be more likely to throw in extra cookies or treats, I’d probably buy the girls more clothes and don’t even get me started with what I would spend at Target. I’ve said before how we usually only keep a few hundred dollars in our checking accounts. The rest is always moved to savings (out of sight, out of mind). If we only have $200 in checking to last us the week and I’m heading to the store, you can bet I will purchase only items on sale, cook inexpensive dinners and not buy extra crap. A lot of ‘money management’ is a mental game, so we “trick” ourselves into having a little money by keeping as much as we can in our savings account.
What camp do you fall in? Do you use credit cards like we do and pay them off every month? Do you use them for everything and pay it every month? Or do you avoid them altogether? I’d love to know!!