Like dandelions in a spring lawn, credit card offers pop up everywhere–stuffing your mailbox, flashing on the Internet, even falling from the magazines in your doctor’s waiting room. And they all sound so attractive. “0% APR until next year!” “No fee if you transfer a balance now!” “Low fixed rate!” You’re thinking of applying for a card, but how do you decide which offer is best for you?
It’s hard to imagine functioning in today’s society without access to credit. As a member of the military, you may be enticed to use credit to purchase the things you want while on a limited military salary. However, be careful not to fall victim to some of the pitfalls associated with credit card use.
Most military families are on a limited budget these days. Often families are living in communities where a household is normally supported with a duel income (husband and wife have steady full-time employment). Military spouses often find it difficult to land good employment in the communities where they are stationed. No matter how tightly you try to control your spending or how strictly you follow your spending plan, the temptation to overspend is of increasing concern for many young families. At some point you are likely to wonder how you can cut costs.
If you’re unable to meet your financial obligations, you have options. Which option or options you choose will depend on how severe your financial problems are and what resources you have. You should, however, act now. Delaying action could lead to further difficulties, including potential damage to your credit history, or even the possible loss of your home.
Credit card debt can sometimes become overwhelming, especially when presented with the temptation to spend. High credit limits with low interest rates can become an attraction many young families are not properly equipped to handle when the bill becomes due. Military families are often left to wonder if they will be able to pay off their balances before the interest rate increases. Or, worse yet, the bills stack up and you become unable to cover all of your monthly expenses.
A record-keeping system is a systematic approach to retaining and filing documents in a way that makes them easy to find when needed, even if it’s several years later. Record-keeping systems range from simple to elaborate and from basic to comprehensive. The ideal system is designed to fit your personal and family situation and lifestyle.
In times of financial crisis, the last thing you’ll want to do is start digging through the couch cushions for coins. Especially if you have a family. The stress of military life impacts families in unique ways and having a financial safety net in place can ensure that you’re protected when a financial emergency arises. One way to accomplish this is by setting up a cash reserve, a pool of readily available funds that can help you meet emergency or highly urgent short-term needs. Here’s how to get one started.
Your first step in repairing poor credit should be to obtain a copy of your credit report. The three major credit reporting agencies are Experian, Trans Union, and Equifax. You can obtain a copy of your report by contacting these agencies by phone, by mail, or through their websites. Check the report carefully for any errors and make sure that all the information contained in the report is correct.
Do you sometimes lie awake at night thinking about bills that need to be paid? Does it feel as though you’re drowning in debt? If this describes you, you might take solace in the fact that you’re not alone. A recent report released by the American Psychological Association (APA) showed that 72% of adults feel stressed about money at least some of the time, and 22% said the amount of stress they experienced was extreme.1
Now that we’ve made it through tax season and military families may be taking summer vacations, it’s a great time to take a look at your finances to ensure things are on track for the year. Planning opportunities are few and far between later in the year, so now is an ideal time.