Lately I’ve been seriously considering the long term effects of bad credit. I know it’s Sunday and tomorrow’s a holiday/it’s a three day weekend and saving money doesn’t feel as good as spending it but as Jay Z’s “The Story of OJ” song lyrics clearly delineate:
“You wanna know what’s more important than throwin’ away money at a strip club? Credit.”
The lyrics that follow have been criticized for endorsing a Jewish stereotype:
“You ever wonder why Jewish people own all the property in America? This how they did it.”
Regardless of whether or not that statement is true or offensive, and yes he’s banking on reinforcing a stereotype (and sorry if anyone hates or is offended by this line), what is undeniable is the importance and power good credit lends you.
Image from Oprah.com.
I know I don’t usually do posts about topics this heavy, but hey I’m growing up. I started wrecking my credit early in life and had absolutely zero advice or information about credit, debt, or money management. The only thing I knew was that my Mom set an amazing example of using money wisely, but the insistence of peer pressure and an intense shopping habit took over me. She had a lot of willpower while I wasn’t blessed with nearly as much.
Like many people in their 20s, I ruined my credit and I’m barely rebuilding it.
Using credit was fun while it lasted but don’t fall into the trap of thinking that credit is free money. IT’S NOT!!! If you can’t pay back every dollar you’re spending with a credit card don’t do it. It doesn’t matter how good it feels.
What does matter though is that down the line you can be denied job opportunities, loans for buying a car, and a lease on an apartment. Not the least bit fun and trust me, you will regret every carefree minute your credit cards lent you.
I am adulting more than ever and therefore adjusting more things so that I don’t have to be a typical struggling millennial. I am here to share the wisdom I’ve amassed as a broke girl and shopping addict. I’m barely recovering. Take that as a warning.
Here are 6 tips & tricks I learned:
1. Track your credit score for free and without affecting it with an app/website like Credit Karma or Credit Sesame:
If nothing will guilt you enough into not ruining your credit and continuing on as a spendthrift, an app/website like Credit Sesame or Credit Karma just might. Seeing your score decline before your eyes is a saddening reality and you’ll inevitably begin to raise your score with their recommendations.
Image from creditsesame.com.
If you’re already in the tank like I was, they suggest the best secured credit cards and show you the pros and cons of each and how likely it is that you’ll be approved. I had no idea not having any credit cards is actually a deterrent as having a few you’re paying on time shows you’re a responsible spender and is essential if you’ve already dug yourself a credit hole.
Image from creditsesame.com
2. Reward yourself with a few established treats. (Not every day)
Establishing a routine and frequenting a few places you go to when you want to treat yourself is a good idea. It’ll prevent you from going to random places and more than one place where you’ll spend aimlessly and go overboard.
(Occasionally) Image from writeraccess.com.
If I want to treat myself to a decent lunch I go to either a local ramen place or a local Asian box place, Koran Ramen and The Asian Project.
I know if I step into a random bar or restaurant I’ll end up way more than I intended to. I try to keep these splurgy lunches around $10. When I want to buy a new clothing item, makeup item, etc. I try to only purchase it if I actually need it and keep splurges to birthdays and holidays.
Wet n Wild is a broke girl’s dream. When buying makeup, I stick to drugstore brands or inexpensive quality brands like Colourpop. I also buy makeup through Amazon with money I make on an app I talk about below. Image from gift.kapook.com
I also try to only frequent a few places like local thrift stores, Marshall’s, Burlington Coat Factory, Ross, TJMaxx, etc. If I’m in a huge department store or similar store it’s too easy to end up buying more than to planned on so I tend to avoid them altogether. (Interestingly enough, I work in one so that proves to be a difficult task.)
3. Have a saving buddy or someone else to keep you accountable and vice versa if they need it.
Image from Wallstreetjournal.com
If you have someone consistently encouraging you / nagging you to save money you’ll be less likely to come home or show up to a coffee date with bags of new makeup, shoes, and clothes. (My drugs of choice). Yes it’s annoying and you could find ways to hide it but eventually they’ll see your new fancy jacket or did that just happen to me way too many times?
Keep them on point too as well as yourself when they point out areas you can improve on.
That’s right, just wait. It’s so hard to do when you just have to have something. Shopping addicts I’m talking to you. Of course if you’re in an emergency and have no laundry to go to an interview tomorrow and no time to do it, or find yourself with only 30 minutes before work and find yourself nowhere near affordable food I’m not going to judge you for splurging a bit.
Sometimes you just need a latte. Image from mixwellness.com
Circumstantial spending happens and sometimes there’s nothing you can do to help it. I’m talking about waiting on things you really want until you’ve saved some extra cash and/or it’s gone on sale. I know it seems like certain things never do but believe me, almost everything does and a lot of things will not run out. Wait for sale days and those magical emails with deeply discounted codes. Colourpop has incredible sales all the time. You can easily find out about sales and codes by signing up for emails from your favorite stores.
If you haven’t jumped on to the bandwagon of thrifting, what is wrong with you? Used clothes may smell like used clothing shops which are musty and dusty at times, but hey that’s what washing machines are for.
Image from refinery29.com. Their article on 8 thrift stores in LA you can score great stuff
I’ve found many a treasure in the mustiest of Goodwills. As an added bonus, you’re helping to save the environment and many times other worthy causes as in Goodwill, Discovery Shop, and Salvation Army’s cases. If you’re ocd about other people’s germs or just love your friends’ sense of style and they love yours, do a clothing and accessories swap.
6. Use an app that rewards you to indulge your shopping cravings without touching your bank account.
One thing I learned in 2017 that changed the shopping addict game for me is that you can make money to shop by using several apps. My favorite three are Quick Thoughts, Ibotta, and Shopkick. Quick Thoughts is an app where you take 5-30 min surveys which each pay $2.00. One about TV watching habits pays $0.40. Once you reach $10.00 you can redeem it as an Amazon gift card. It’s easy to rack up gift cards and money to spend I’m your spare time. If you shop on Amazon a lot, (and who doesn’t?) you can easily save a lot of your own cash. As long as you only spend what you make it’s a great idea.
Amazon packages make me happy. Image from digitaltrends.com.
Shopkick is an app where you scan items in stores and you can redeem your points for gift cards to Target, Sephora, Starbucks, and a ton of other places. It’s very easy to rack up points as you probably go to stores and walk around the items that are worth points anyways.
Ibotta is an app where you upload pictures of your receipts for money. Once you reach $20.00 you can pay yourself out through PayPal. If you don’t buy the items worth points it’s a bit hard to do bit regardless, eventually you will definitely rack up some extra cash.
7. Use apps religiously.
Why pay more than you have to? If you haven’t downloaded many restaurant’s and store’s apps that reward you, you probably are. If you drink as much coffee as me believe me the Starbucks and/or Coffee Bean app could come in handy. Both apps reward you with a free welcome drink and a birthday reward. Personally, I use the Starbucks app more, simply because their coffee is more caffeinated and therefore gets the job done. I also love racking up a reward every 125 stars because I can splurge on the fanciest drink imaginable or a yummy salad.
My favorite thing to use my rewards on, Starbucks’ Lentils & Vegetables Protein Bowl with Brown Rice. Image from Starbucks.com.
Also, free refills on coffee, which is amazing. With apps like Urban Outfitters’ you get 20% off for signing up and can easily rack up tons of $5 rewards by shopping, using the app, and even just visiting the store. Yup, you can get paid to window shop.
Basically, if you put even a little effort into being responsible and a smart spender, it pays. It does sound like something a cheesy motivational speaker would say, but who cares? Who wants to be broke and miserable all the time?
I hope this article helped you even a little.
Love you guys and hope your bank accounts grow a little fatter and 2018 is treating you kindly.