Plastic fantastic? | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

After initially declining the credit card offer of my bank, I finally caved in.

Now what?

I have a credit card and an ambitious shopping wishlist—a dangerous combination. Do I immediately get down to business?

Apparently, I don’t have to. There are so many things I have yet to learn about this magical plastic. The same pretty much applies to the rest of the people of my age.

I have a theory: Impulse is what brings young people to burn credit when shopping. So much temptation lurks when you have a credit card  ready.

To avoid unnecessary spending, or worse, to be buried in debt at a young age, ask yourself what you want and write down what you need. Don’t buy things on impulse, unless you really have lots of money—but we all know that money doesn’t grow on trees.

Having a Visa or a MasterCard in your wallet entails so much responsibility. It takes time and practice to master the use of this plastic fantastic. Keep in mind the pointers below to avoid being buried in debt.

A sale isn’t a mandate to burn some credit. Before going on a swiping spree, test the waters and ask yourself whether you still have space in your room for that pair of shoes. Is it a need or just a want?

Discounts, promos  and freebies are enticing. But they don’t necessarily mean savings. Once, I fell for a shopping gimmick: the mall told me if I spend a thousand for this and that, I’d get a P100 gift certificate.

Duh! I did get one, but I eventually wasn’t able to redeem it.

There are traps when we go on a shopping adventure, so be careful. These promos lead you to believe that you can save, but in reality they only make you spend more in the long run.

If you’re itching to buy premium content for your Apple or Android device, always think. Do you seriously need it now? Will you have time to enjoy it (despite your busy school schedule)? Sure, the app only costs a dollar or two. But how many times have you convinced yourself in the same way when you bought the dozens of apps you now have in your archive? How much in total have you spent, really?

There are other premium apps that can satisfy your digital craving. They go free or on sale every day; no spending required. They’re just a Google search away.

And if you did get a free app (Tiny Tower, for instance), try to limit yourself to the idea that what you want from the game is just plain, silly fun. Don’t spend real money for in-game credits because it takes the fun out of the game.

Group buying sites are extremely promising. Read the fine print or you might end up not using the coupon and the promising discount or offer you bought.

Pay your bills on time. Or better yet, don’t wait for your credit-card bill to haunt you. Interest rates won’t chase you if you pay on time. If you’re using a supplementary card from your parents, make them feel proud by personally handing them your payment. They’ll feel confident about your money skills and will trust you more in the long run. Don’t let them pay for your purchases—it’s embarrassing!

Airplane fare discounts don’t always call for a vacation. Even “piso fares” can cost you more than a thousand. Always put a lot of thought into your online purchases. Once, my friends and I got excited about the idea of traveling. We scouted for plane tickets during airfare promos, but we never saw ourselves traveling because of future schedule conflicts.

Reading through the computations printed in credit-card bills isn’t easy (unless you’re an accounting or math student). Spare yourself the hassle of analyzing your credit card spending by remembering this general rule: if you pay on time and with the promised amount, there will be no surcharges or interest fees (except probably the membership fee).

Remember, having a credit card doesn’t make you rich. It only makes spending easier. Use this to your advantage by teaching yourself to be wise.

It all boils down to self-discipline. No magic is ever good without self-control.

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