Do you currently have a credit card in your wallet? Yes? Do you currently make or spend money, ever? Yes?
This post is for you. Especially if you are young and are inexperienced at using your money in a safe and not-stupid manner.
I didn’t just wake up this morning and decide to preach a little sermon to the youth about money. I was actually contacted by Credit Card Insider, which is a group reaching out to college graduates to help them build their credit and use cards wisely.
Wisely, I said.
In a not-stupid manner.
They asked me to share my top three tips for financial management and so here we are. These are the things I think form a basis for setting a good foundation financially.
Tip #1: When you are out of money, stop spending it.
I realize this is un-American. I realize our entire economy is based on people spending money they don’t have to fill up their already jammed houses. But it’s dumb. It’s especially dumb when we use debt to continue purchasing things we can’t actually afford.
Ask yourself this question: Will I have enough money to pay the rent or buy gas next week if I buy this thing today? If the answer is no, do not buy the thing.
Tip #2: Credit Cards are just like dynamite. One wrong move and you’ll be sorry.
Dynamite is a very useful tool– it’s hard to blast through rock without it. It’s useful, but extremely dangerous. That’s why we don’t give it to children to play with, sell it at the grocery store, or keep it in our purses. Because KABOOM. Body parts go missing and it’s hard to regrow an arm.
Credit cards are not so different. Sure, there are times they are the only financial tool that makes a lot of sense. It’s hard to get the internet to take your cash, frankly. And debit cards work fine in most situations, but there are times a credit card and its reward points come in handy.
But a credit card in the wrong hands is just like tossing a stick of dynamite to a seven-year old. That money will have to be paid back. Too many people have gotten themselves hopelessly close to an explosion because they didn’t use common sense when they started using their card. There is no grown up who is going to stop you from being an idiot here– you are the grown up. You have to stop yourself.
Ask yourself this: Do I have the money in my account to cover this purchase when the bill comes? Or, alternately, am I truly at risk of bodily harm if I don’t use this card? If the answer is no, do not use the card.
Tip #3: Seek to be generous in all situations.
Money is a gift, a resource. Some of us have more than others. There are few things more attractive than a heart that cares for others, so be generous. Tip lavishly– the woman waiting your table probably isn’t doing it for a hobby. Churches and charities do not run on air and magic– they need your financial backing. There are families in your town and even friends in your living room who might need a helping hand. Be the generous person who is watching and waiting to share what you have when you see a need.
Ask yourself this: Do I want to be that nasty jerk who hoards his entire box of doughnuts and eats them alone in the break room while everyone else eats carrots? If the answer is no, share.
What have I missed? What are your top three financial tips? Let’s keep people from making dumb decisions, all together!