Using credit wisely

There are lots of things that I would like to go back to my younger self and explain or advise against. I would tell her to stay in education rather than leave school at 16. I would advise her to be picky when it comes to boyfriends (some of whom were awful in hindsight). I would tell her that her mum is usually right and that she should listen to her more and the last thing I would tell her is to use credit wisely.

It seems that as soon as you turn 18 all of a sudden there are lots of letters flying through the door telling you to apply for a credit card or to take out a loan. There are catalogues that tell you that you can have what you want now even though you don’t have the money to pay for it at the moment and there are banks offering you overdrafts at a moment’s notice.It all soon adds up and if you are not money wise and you don’t read the small print or budget accordingly things can soon spiral out of control. I am lucky now. I don’t have any debt at the moment but it took a long time to get to this point in life and all because I had fun when I was younger.

I am not saying that having a loan, a catalogue or a credit card is a bad thing. They can be really useful ways of spreading the cost of large items and are usually a lot better value than in shop credit. I just wish I had worked out when was a good time to use credit and when I should have realised that saving up for something was a much better way of getting it.

As an adult I know that using interest-free credit cards are a great way of buying my annual car insurance if I religiously pay it off each month. I know that taking a low-interest loan out to buy a car is better than using HPI and I know that catalogues are not always good value for money even if you can spread the cost.  However, there have still been times when I have had to fill in a short term money gap with online loans. When our car failed its MOT and needed just under a thousand pounds worth of work a few days before Christmas then an online loan was our only option.

If you need help and advice on using credit wisely, saving money or claiming benefits then visit the Money Advice Service which is a free, impartial money advice service.
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