How to Keep Your Credit Card Balance in Check When Decorating Your Home
If you love nothing better than refreshing your home with new decorations, or crafting up a storm each weekend, you may occasionally find yourself spending more cash than your budget really allows. After all, it’s easy to get carried away when creating just the right look for your child’s bedroom, modernizing the kitchen or bathroom, or adding some Feng Shui to your at-home office.
However, if you want to start this year off frugally, it pays to know some ways to minimize your credit card debt and how best to utilize a balance transfer. If you’re keen to cut costs in 2016, read on for some tips to keep card balances in check while still keeping your home fresh and inviting.
Pay Credit Card Balances on Time
One of the most important parts of staying on top of debt is paying off your credit card bill each month, on time, so that you don’t accumulate interest (which is often charged at through-the-roof rates of 20 percent or higher).
It is advisable to pay the balance the day the statement arrives, or to at least set up automatic payments through your bank account each month so that you don’t accidentally forget to pay and then get faced not only with interest rate fees, but also potential charges for not paying the minimum on time. Remember that different cards have different interest-free day limits set up on them, so be very clear about the terms and conditions on your various cards.
Keep in mind too that sometimes banks may decide to increase the interest rate on all of your credit cards issued by their organization if they see that you haven’t paid your bills on time. They might decide that you’re a higher risk and therefore increase the rate by a percentage or even more.
Save Money With a Balance Transfer
Another good way to save some money if you can’t pay off your credit card straight away is to use a balance transfer. This means that you move the balance on your current card to a new one, where you are given a specific period (this can vary considerably, but is often up to 12 months) during which
interest is not charged on the balance. This is a great way to really make a dent in the debt you have accumulated as you don’t keep incurring more interest.
There are some things to be aware of if choosing to do this though. For starters, look for a balance transfer offer where you won’t be a charged a transfer fee, since such fees can often make the process not worth doing, or significantly decrease the amount you can save.
As well, make sure that you don’t use the new card to rack up any new charges over the interest-free period; otherwise you’ll find yourself accumulating interest at the standard rate. While you pay off your outstanding balance, you should pop the new card into a drawer or other spot where you won’t be tempted to use it.
Pay off More Than the Minimum
If you can’t pay off the entire amount straight away, then at the very least you should pay more than the minimum amount listed on your account; as much as you possibly can each month. While it might not seem like much, extra payments of even small amounts can make a huge different to the interest you pay over the long term. You’ll find interest calculators online at various sites (including many banks) where you can calculate the differences and see the numbers for yourself.
Negotiate a Lower Interest Rate or Annual Fee
Another strategy you can try in order to save some money is to speak with your bank and see if you can negotiate a lower interest rate. Many people don’t think to try this, but you’ll be surprised by just how often banks and other lending institutions are willing to work with customers in this regard.
Similarly, you might also be able to negotiate a lower, or zero-cost, annual fee, particularly if you agree to have all of your accounts with the one organization. If this isn’t provided by your current bank, keep an eye out for offers advertised by other institutions. Often organizations keen to attract new customers will set up a limited-time offer on their cards where no annual fee is payable for the first year, or where discounted interest rates are allowed for a set period just for signing up with them.