Sunday, August 2, 2015

Operation Ducks in a Row - Cutting My Store Card Losses

One of my many goals is downsizing, hence the need for getting my ducks in a row. I have a lot of major life changing coming up with my family and the time is here. One of my biggest obstacles is my overflowing wardrobe of clothes I wear, don’t wear and have forgotten that I’ve had. I’m needing to make some changes and that can NOT happen if I’m still buying more than I have room for.
I won’t lie when I say that I’m overwhelmed. I had no idea where to start other than the constant, “don’t go shopping…don’t go shopping….do not go shopping.” Trying to stay on task is hard enough but then I really looked at what I was looking at. Let me show you what I mean.

I sometimes wonder why I don’t pursue marketing, because honestly look at this. How many stores do we go to that ask for an email? Heck, even at my job we ask for an email. The employee may input it but we may never see how many messages go out about everything until we get them ourselves. Coupons, sales, flash sales, special offers. And please try to tell me that you haven’t heard this, “The more times we enter your email, the better offers you get.” I know of two major chains that even my small town has access to. But as a regular buyer of all the things, it’s not always what we pay attention to until you get that notification.

I went even a bit further and went thru my emails and all the stores that I ‘subscribe’ to. Then compared that to the matching store card that I have with said store email. At my job, I won’t lie, we get a lot of questions about credit. Also for living in a college town, we see a lot of kids who are away from for the first time and really beginning to come into their own. I was one of them at 18 and now as a twenty something submerged in an overflowing small house with an overflowing inbox, Carrie Bradshaw can’t help but wonder…when did I become a blind buyer?

Now to be proactive, I felt the hesitation when I scrolled to the end of the email and hit the unsubscribe button. Some I constantly look at and others I forget I have. The important thing that I had to realize was that I don’t Need it. We all want things, but what I’m trying to do is focus on what I need. And this wasn’t it. So if you’re in the boat with me, don’t be afraid to hit that button.
Then the next step is to really evaluate what I needed as far as my store credit cards. What a lot of people don’t realize is that while yes, it’s good to ‘have’ them, having too many is a bad thing. Having too many and not using them for really long periods of time is just as bad if not worse. So here’s what I looked at:

1.       Rewards – most card have them now, so look at how you get them. Some do it by the actual visit you do. So buy there one day, and you get so many points. Some do it by how much you buy aka 1 point per dollar spent. Then what can you use the points on? Bottom line is, if you aren’t getting anything from the card you’re using, why have it?

2.       Annual fee – regardless if it’s a store card or a regular use-on-everything card, unless you got the money for all the travelling and paying back for a high dollar American Express, just don’t do it. It’s way to easy to get caught up in the excitement of getting approved for a credit card but unless it’s a secured card , you really have no need for it.
.       Interest Rate – APR is not something to take lightly, it’s the make or break of a credit product and for those of us in the college age, it’s automatically a bit higher. That being said, don’t be afraid to shop around for a card you want. The easiest way to avoid paying interest is to pay off your balance every month. Now I know, firsthand, that sometimes that is not the case. The interest rate can and does vary so LOOK AT YOUR STATEMENTS! It will always be on there and from there, I cut some losses and temptations.

Credit cards aren’t the devil. Sometimes you get a new job and need a few staple pieces of clothing to make sure you look the part and pay it off in a couple months. Sometimes you forget to get an important gift for a wedding, or you need to buy the bridesmaid dress and don’t have all the funds on hand. The key is to know how and what you want to use them for. Do you shop there often? Can that particular store be on the expensive side or cheap enough to buy in bulk? Store card or not, that duck needed to be put in place.

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