Be smart about credit

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Credit Cards-Late Payments
Use of credit may not be wise for busy college students. (Courtesy of AP)” height=”215

From tuition to tissues, higher education can be costly. You never quite realize how much money it takes to live until you’re on your own. Finding sales and deals becomes a skill for survival. And sometimes, the savings come from a credit card.

To banks and credit card companies, a college student is the ideal customer. They have several marketing ploys made specifically to lure students in. Many companies offer low interest rates, student-centered deals or even specialized student cards.

And, all over the country, students sign up.

Many financial advisers will tell you that starting credit early is a good thing. By doing so, you can build a good credit score to maintain after college. However, many students who do have credit end up falling into debt.

While credit cards aren’t inherently bad, many students end up misusing or overusing them — a problem many adults have too.

Buying groceries or textbooks on credit may be needed when tight on money, but splurging on movies, video games or clothes is where credit can become a problem. Getting out of control with purchases is how a lot of students pile on debt.

Also, even if you’re using a credit card responsibly, your account still has to be managed. As a student, it’s hard enough to keep my head above water with classes, projects, papers and work hours. I don’t see why I should add another stress factor.

I personally plan to never use credit. Not because credit is bad, but because I know myself. I am a horrible procrastinator and slightly absent-minded.

I also am a hardcore fangirl. So when new merchandise comes out for my favorite movie or tv show, you can bet that I’ll charge that to my credit card. In terms of bill pay, it’s just another thing I don’t want to dread on my to-do list.

Also, the idea of paying interest on a purchase doesn’t make much sense to me. If I don’t have enough money in my account, I won’t buy it. I can wait until I have enough money in my checking account to buy something on my wish list. To me, debit is much simpler and easier to keep up with.

But that’s my choice. You might not agree.

So evaluate yourself. Is having a credit card something you can keep up with? Will unnecessary spending be tempting to you? If you think that you can handle credit now, go ahead and sign up.

But if you don’t think you can manage a credit account, or you don’t think you need credit, just wait. Graduate, get a little older and a little wiser, and then re-evaluate yourself. Perhaps you’ll find that you can live just fine without credit, or maybe you’ll discover that credit can be a
useful tool.

Whatever you decide, you have to live with the consequences. So be smart about it.

Aguirre is a sophomore majoring in journalism and political science.

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