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Back-to-School Strategies for Staying Out of Debt

Will Changes in Credit Reporting Affect You?

What to do if your medical bills are turned over to collections

What to do if your spouse can't pay his or her bills

What to do when a family member ruins your credit

Homeownership is possible

What you need to know about the IRS and collection agencies

Will being turned down for a store credit card hurt my credit?

Beware of credit repair

Debt Management versus Debt Settlement

How to get ahead of late fees

Is There a Service That Helps You Not Pay Bills

Is a Debt Owed

Patience is the key to furnishing a new home

How to split expenses with your partner

Will my boyfriend's bad credit affect me?

Tax filing options to consider

What to do if your account is turned over to collections

Celebrating Valentine's Day on a budget

Personal Credit and Starting a Business

Finding Money to Reduce Your Debt and Improve Your Credit

Simple Keys to Personal Finance

Be vigilant to avoid telephone and internet scams

Debt Settlement

Understanding credit utilization

Setting New Year's goals that you can keep

The pros and cons of skipping a payment

Strategies for Financially Surviving the Holidays

Creating a fun and memorable holiday on a budget

Keep an open line of communication with parents about their finances.

Make a Choice to Get Ahead Financially

What to do when a relative asks you for money

Should You Buy a Home Now or Wait?

The difference between debt settlement and debt management

Tax Refund Delays for some in 2017

The negative impact of paying a payment 30 days late

Stressed by Finances

How to navigate two significant financial decisions: starting a family and buying a home

How to advise someone close to you who is coming into a significant amount of money

Make a Conscious Decision on How to Spend Your Money

Tips for Back-to-School Shopping

How do you know if you have a good credit score?

Americans spend more money eating out than on groceries

Having Good Credit Saves You Money

Developing good money habits with your first job

How to save for a home

How to Know if you are Ready for Home Ownership

When is the right time to buy a home?

You can improve your credit to buy a home

Plan a Memorable Vacation Without Incurring Debt

The Hidden Costs of Payday Loans

Be Wary of Credit Repair Services

Use Caution when playing the credit card game

What does it mean to say bankruptcy gives you a clean slate?

How your credit is affected by various debt options

Be wary of predatory small business loans

What to do if you fall behind on mortgage payments

Financing a College Education

Money, Credit and Relationships

Should you be concerned with your date's credit scores?

Best options for a small, short-term loan

How to help a relative who is always borrowing money from you

Setting New Year's goals that you can keep

Making the holidays memorable for families on a tight budget.

Skipping a Payment over the Holidays

What to do if you are overwhelmed by medical bills

Make your financial intention a financial goal you can achieve

Should Consumers Use the New EMV Cards?

What to do when a collector calls you

The difference between paying bills and managing your money

My wife and I have gone through some tough financial times, which eventually led us to file for bankruptcy.  Following this experience, I don’t ever want to use credit again, but my wife

What do I need to know to pay ahead on my mortgage?

What to do if you get an unsolicited credit card in the mail

What to do when moving in to share expenses doesn't work out

Make your financial intention a financial goal you can achieve

Q. I have my first job out of college, and I want to live within my means.  But every time my friends invite me to an outing or event, I end up saying yes and putting the charges on my credit card. I can’t pay off my card because my balance keeps growing. Help!

A. You are not alone in your struggles to tell your friends no when they invite you to social events.  In fact, many people have trouble saying no to social opportunities with their friends and relatives. Nevertheless, recognizing that your choices don’t reflect what you really want is a step in the right direction. 

You say it is your intention to live within your means, yet your credit card debt continues to grow.  To change the course you’re on, I encourage you to turn intentions into written goals. Based on what you’ve told me already, you have three potential goals: to live within your means, pay-off your credit card debt, and to say no to activities that keep you from making progress toward your first two goals. 

Once you’ve clearly stated your goals, you can use a few simply strategies to keep you on track. The first of these strategies is to remove the temptation to use your card by putting it on ice—literally. Put your credit card in a bowl of water and put it in the freezer.  You cannot thaw your credit card in the microwave without harming it, so you won’t be tempted whip out your card.

With your credit card out of easy reach, you can give yourself time to consider if a purchase is moving you closer to—or further away from—your goals.  You can still go to concerts and do other things you enjoy, but you are more likely to spend money when you want to, not because you feel pressured to say yes.    

Another way to curb your spending is to pay for entertainment expenses with your debit card, rather than your credit card. If you have the money, then you can make the purchase. If you don’t have the money in your account, you say no to invitation. In other words, don’t use a credit card to supplement your income. 

As you already know, credit card debt can easily become a burden.  To pay off your card, you first have to stop spending money you don’t have. Then you have to come up with ways to pay off what you’ve borrowed.  Can you work overtime hours or pack a lunch instead of eating out?  Or perhaps you have something you can sell or could pick up a seasonal job. Don’t worry if you can’t pay off your debt all at once. Instead commit to chipping away at your balance every month.  

Managing money doesn’t have to be complicated, though managing the emotions tied to the things money can buy can prove troublesome.  If you get honest with yourself about what you really want and then make decisions accordingly, you’ll be able to live within your means—and you’ll be happier in the long run.

Bonnie Spain is the executive director of the American Center for Credit Education and Consumer Credit Counseling Service of the Black Hills. For more information, email acce@acce-online.com.

The material in this transmission is provided for personal, non-commercial, educational, and informational purposes only. ACCE makes no representations or warranties with respect to the accuracy or completeness of the contents of this transmission and assumes no responsibility for errors, inaccuracies, omissions, or any inconsistency herein. You should consult a professional where appropriate.