“Opening your first credit card at 18, will help build your credit early.” These were the wise
words my dad had told me on our way to the bank just a few days after my 18 th birthday.
At that young of an age, having a credit card could either successfully prepare you for the real
world, or seriously damage your credit score. The little information I knew about credit cards is
all I thought I needed to know. I make a purchase and pay it back later, simple enough right?
Wrong. There are so many things to know before you go ahead and start swiping.
Here are the things I did at 18 that very negatively impacted my credit score. For starters, I did
not follow the “only spend 30% of your credit limit rule.” I was careless. I saw the opportunity to
spend all this money I thought I had and would be amazed at the fact that I could spend so much,
and my checking account wouldn’t be impacted. All I knew was that by a certain date I just had
to pay off the minimum amount due. I thought life couldn’t get any better than this. Didn’t have
enough money on my debit card? No big deal, I could just use my credit card.
Overtime, I saw my balance go from triple digits, to quadruple. I was never worried I would have
to pay the entire amount back all at once. I thought I had more time. When I began paying my
credit cards, my available balance would go back up and I saw that as more money for me to
This became a vicious cycle of paying and spending. At this point, I had been accumulating
interest on my credit card every month and began to worry. I was getting charged up to fifty
dollars every month for not paying off my credit card on time. At this point I was in my first year
of college and only had a part time job which wasn’t going to pay off my debt overnight.
After a few years of constantly paying back as much as I could, I decided to open another credit
card. I did research on how to improve your credit score because after having and using mine to
the max, I had done some serious damage to my score. Once I set up my new card, I did not
touch it. I only used it for my monthly Amazon prime subscription which I paid back
Some of the things I learned while getting my credit score back up was to only spend what I
know I can afford. This means only making necessary purchases that you are able to pay back
comfortably with the income you make. Secondly, was understanding knowing when to make
my payment and how much I should be paying.
The breakdown I followed resulted in a major increase in my credit score and once I began
making more money and learning how to save and budget, it was pretty manageable. With
whatever amount I owed, I would split it in half. I paid half of that balance two weeks before the
due date. The other half I paid off 2-4 days before the due date. This method ensured I was
paying off the entirety of my credit card that month and avoiding any form of interest rates.
If there is ever a time where you can’t afford to pay the entirety of your credit card bill, paying as
much as you can will really take you a long way and give you the same results over time.
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