They don't teach you "adulting" in school. But lucky for you, I'm here to explain to you the pros and cons of acquiring a credit card. Of course, there comes more responsibility with a credit card, but it also holds a certain amount of respectability and authenticity. I admit, I see my friends that pay with a credit card as having their life more together than I have mine. But the question still holds — do you really need the hassle?
If your credit card gets stolen or lost, one phone call to your company can cancel the credit card and erase the identity thief's doings. However, with a debit card, they can just spend your money without any hindrance. A friend of mine had someone take $300 from their debit card, it took weeks to get the money back.
Cash Back and Discounts
For some credit cards, you can earn cash back for things you shop for and for others, you can earn double the cash back during the first year. It comes in handy if you use the listed services a lot — for example, Amazon. You can also get discounts at places like Stop and Shop, Under Armour or Ulta just to list a few. But be careful — just because you get a discount, doesn't mean it's not money spent.
If you subscribe to monthly services like me, a credit card comes in handy when maybe you don't have that five dollars you need at the moment. Music apps, subscription boxes and delivery services can all fall under this category. It's also nice because you don't have to worry about it every month and it'll just automatically charge.
Easy to Build Credit
When you're a college student, it's easier to build credit than say, a person buying their first apartment. Little expenses are easier to pay off and deal with in a timely manner and thus better to have while building credit.
If you're looking to finance a home or a car, lenders will ask to check your credit report. Of course having a bad credit will decrease your chances, but having no credit at all tells them absolutely nothing about the way you handle money. Also, places like UHaul and various hotels won't take debit cards for reservations which can be a problem if you need those services.
Debt, debt and more debt
It is literally so easy to swipe a tiny plastic card — trust me. It's easier than anything in the world, especially when your credit limit is much higher than what you have in the bank. Without thought, you can rack up an unspeakable amount of debt in just a few months. And if you're an impulse shopper like me, this can be a huge problem.
Ruining Your Credit
It's also very easy to ruin a credit that you've spent some time building up. When you miss a payment or when someone pulls your credit, it will decrease and harm you in the future. If you're a college student without a stable hourly job, this can really hurt you.
Having a credit card and not using it is actually more harmful than not having one. Credit card companies track your usage and you can actually accrue fees if you don't use it. Basically, if you remain inactive, you'll be spending money on nothing.
So, taking these things into mind, you decide: is it worth it to take on these hassles? Is having a credit card just a made up step in the road to adulthood?
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- Myth Busters: Should You Carry a Balance on a Credit Card? ›
- How Do I Build Credit Without a Credit Card? ›
- When And How To Get Your First Credit Card ›
- 5 Reasons You Should Get A Credit Card - PenFed Blog ›
- Do You Really Need A Credit Card? - Business Insider ›
- How many credit cards should you have? ›
When you take out a loan for a car, charge something to your credit card, or get a personal line of credit, there is going to be an interest rate that applies to your loan.
A lot of different factors go into what you will be charged, including your own personal credit score. But even those with flawless credit still see a minimum charge that they can't get around. That all goes back to the Federal Funds Rate.
One thing consumers rarely realize is that all of our banks are lending money to each other every night. Banks are legally required to maintain a certain percentage of their deposits in non-interest-bearing accounts at the Federal Reserve to ensure they have enough money to cover any withdrawals that may unexpectedly come up. However, deposits can fluctuate and it's very common for some banks to exceed the requirement on certain days while some fall short. In cases like this, banks actually lend each other money to ensure they meet the minimum balance. It's a bit hard to imagine these multibillion-dollar financial institutions needing to borrow money to tide them over for a bit, but it happens every single night at the Federal Reserve. It's also a nice deal for those with balances above the reserve balance requirement to earn a bit of money with cash that would normally just be sitting there.
The Federal Reserve
The exact interest rate the banks will charge each other is a matter of negotiation between them, but the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) (the arm of the Federal Reserve that sets monetary policy) meets eight times a year to set a target rate. They evaluate a multitude of economic indicators including unemployment, inflation, and consumer confidence to decide the best rate to keep the country in business. The weighted average of all interest rates across these interbank loans is the effective federal funds rate.
This rate has a huge impact on the economy overall as well as your personal finances. The federal funds rate is essentially the cheapest money available to a bank and that feeds into all of the other loans they make. Banks will add a slight upcharge to the rate set by the Fed to determine what is the lowest interest that they will announce for their most creditworthy customers, also known as the prime rate. If you have a variable interest rate loan (very common with credit cards and some student loans), it's likely that the interest rate you pay is a set percentage on top of that prime rate that your lender is paying. That's why in times of low interest rates (it was set at 0% during the Great Recession), a lot of borrowers should go for fixed interest rate loans that won't increase. However, if the federal funds rate was relatively high (it went up to 20% in the early 1980's), a variable interest rate loan may be a better decision as you would be charged less interest should the rate drop without the need to refinance.
The federal funds rate also has a major impact on your investment portfolio. The stock market reacts very strongly to any changes in interest rates from the Federal Reserve, as a lower rate makes it cheaper for companies to borrow and reinvest while a higher rate may restrict capital and slow short-term growth. If you have a significant portion of your investments in equities, a small change in the federal funds rate can have a large impact on your net worth.
Whether you're leaving a job involuntarily, departing for something new, or just want to prepare for the unknown, it is smart to understand all your options regarding your 401k.
Frugal gifting often gets a bad reputation. However, this shopping method does not make you cheap — it makes you practical. Frugal gifts often avoid waste and overspending and can be just as meaningful (if not more so) as any other present.
With the National Retail Federation predicting each consumer this holiday season to spend upwards of $1,000 on holiday gifts amidst an economic recession —this year might be the perfect time to reconsider your spending budget. We've formulated the ultimate list of frugal gift-giving ideas to get you started.