This is the third post in a series that will use the advice from the Eva’s Financial Literacy Kit to share tips on budgeting, spending, debt and credit. This post offers some sage advice on how you can control your credit and keep yourself from getting into debt.
Credit is a subject that really needs to be taught better in schools. I consider it a bit ridiculous to look back at my education and remember making a life-size replica of a mummy out of popsicle sticks and toilet paper, or going to Medieval Times and calling it “French class” when we could have been doing a very basic lesson on the interest you pay on your credit card. I would have even appreciated a “Hey, maybe check your credit report once every year” from any teacher.
But myself and so many young people around me were left to figure it out for ourselves, which, if you’re lazy like I am, isn’t really something you want to be spending your time doing. It mostly ends in bad credit decisions, significant debt, a good deal of stress, and a lifetime of resentment towards our education for not being taught about our credit before it was already damaged. So how can we improve this for our youth? I’d say we can start by opening up the lines of communication and helping to spread these 5 basic credit tips:
5 Credit Tips:
1) Only use as much credit as you can afford to pay back – I know this one seems obvious, but there are many pretty shoes that have tempted me to disobey this one rule. And on that note, avoid maxing out your credit – this is never fun to deal with afterwards.
2) Shop around (or negotiate) for the lowest possible interest rate. Everything is negotiable!
3) Understand your agreement – make sure you know the payment deadlines and the penalties for late payments. Often if you miss a few payments in a row, your interest rate will increase.
4) Tell your creditors if you cannot pay on time. Many lenders will be willing to help you manage your payments, but you have to communicate with them. If you go MIA, you will be punished.
5) Request a copy of your credit report every year. Mistakes are your responsibility to catch and fix.
Check out our full Financial Literacy Toolkit here: www.evasfinancialkit.ca
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