Two years ago, I watched Confessions of a Shopaholic with my daughter. If you're not familiar with the movie (or the book), I can summarize it for you in three sentences.
A finance journalist named Becky Bloomwood is a shopaholic. She goes on spending binges and ends up in horrible credit card debt. She can't pay her bills and is pursued by a sleazy debt collector.
This is all especially funny because she's a finance journalist, which gives it a cute, ironic twist. So I'm watching the movie and laughing hysterically until I realize something awful: I used to be Becky Bloomwood. No, I'm not kidding.
When I was in my early twenties, I was a credit card mess. I'd go shopping with my credit card in hand and not worry about how much I spent until the bill came. At that point, though, I'd start worrying a great deal — sometimes, I'd worry about it all night!
It didn't take long for me to realize that I had to change my evil spending ways or cut up my card. So, I spent a lot of time learning everything I could about credit cards and personal finance. I literally read everything I could get my hands on. The more I learned, the easier it became to have a relationship with my credit card that it didn't involve sleepless nights.
Fast forward a couple of decades. Now, I spend the better part of every day either writing or talking about credit cards or personal finance. But I freely acknowledge that credit cards aren't for everyone. Cash is king for many people. But for those who do want a mutually beneficial relationship with their credit cards, here are the five habits common among cardholders who use their cards effectively. Continue reading...