Debt is the worst burden to have. It is stressful; it is a headache; it is annoying. No one wants to have debt, but unfortunately, everyone has some sort of debt, from $800 to thousands of dollars. As for us college students, student debt is enough and it’s best to stay clear from other debt, although it is not easy. It is not easy because no matter what, we have to build credit in order to be able to do things like buy a car or house or even get a new phone with a plan. Credit is so unfortunately important that they make us think that we are contributing to society.

I will provide you some tips on using a credit card the smart way and what I did to maintain my bills low. First thing’s first, if you’ve never had a credit card, I would start by applying at your bank for a student credit card because you can use it for school or anything else. The interests are low and sometimes they give you months of interest free. In case you get denied, make sure to wait about six months to reapply or apply for a store credit card until you get one. Also, don’t get more than three credit cards, because if you have more than three, you will be tempted to use them all and it will get hard to keep up with.

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Personally, I had four credit cards and one I used for shopping, school classes and other stuff. I had about $1500 on it. My other credit cards had about $500 to $800 on them and they were store credit cards, so I did a bit of shopping. I also had other bills so I felt overwhelmed monthly and felt like I could not save money because it kept going into credit card bills. Eventually, I got tired of it and I knew if I didn’t do something, it would either keep going up or take a long time to pay them off. Another tip: never pay the minimum, always pay more because it helps avoid interest and you pay it off faster. Anyway, I paid all of my credit cards in four months.

How did I do it? Well it took a lot of planning and a bit of calculations. I had to make sure I could afford to pay them off. I first looked to see when the payments were due for my credit card and I paid one credit card a month. I looked to see what was in my bank account and calculated the total amount I had in credit card debt. Since I decided to pay one each month I knew I would get some money back. So, I paid the card that had the highest amount in credit right off all at once. Make sure you document you paid off the card. Once I paid all of my cards, I closed them all, but not at the same time as that can hurt your credit. I personally wanted a fresh start and to think smarter when it came to having a credit card again. That’s one way to help pay off your credit card debt.

The best advice when having a credit card is charge what you can afford. Don’t assume that because you have $300 in credit that you can afford to charge it, unless it’s an emergency, that’s a different case. You could make small purchases using a credit card because sometimes you get a discount and that’s fine, but pay it off that same day or split it in half for two weeks. Getting it paid off faster is key.

Lastly, something to keep in mind that should help you better to keep up with credit yet avoid debt is to know that having a credit card is having imaginary money. It’s the truth. That money isn’t yours. If you have a debit card or cash, use it. If you have the money for it, then you can afford it and just pay out of pocket. It’s best to use credit cards for vacations, serious big purchases or small purchases you can handle paying off. Make those money moves!

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