This is a guest article by Nathan Brown.  If you are interested in contributing to Debt RoundUp, please follow our guidelines.

The credit card is a brilliant little object. It allows you to shop without having to carry wads of cash around. That’s a good thing, right? Not always.

Plastic money can tempt people to spend much more than they should, because they’re not actually paying cash up front. This provides a false sense of security and in a few months you realize you’re knee deep in debt – a problem that escalates within a short period of time and causes a lot of other problems.

With the fluctuations that take place in today’s economy, you surely need to work towards financial security. This will help you keep the debt demon at bay. Here are a few tips to help you along the way.

  • Prepaid cards: Try using a prepaid card whenever you go shopping. As the name suggests, you get a particular amount of money to spend and you don’t have to worry about overreaching your credit limit. The danger with credit cards is that it has made Americans owe $852 billion in debt to financial institutions.
  • Good offers: Always be on the lookout for the best deals on products and services. No matter what you need, there will always be a number of companies offering you different options. Use these choices cleverly and you could save a lot of money. Keep an eye out for discounts and sales so that you can save on purchases whenever possible.
  • Timely payments: You might not give this a lot of thought, but paying your bills on time is a great way to budget your spending. Paying them off at the beginning of the month, via online banking or direct debit, is a smart idea. Many institutions recognize such customers and offer them slashed rates from time to time.
  • Go easy on too many luxuries: Just because you earn a fat income doesn’t mean you splurge on everything that catches your fancy. A little restraint could go a long way in keeping you far from debt. A few luxuries never hurt anyone, but don’t go overboard with the spending just because you can. You don’t know when disaster might strike.
  • Emergency fund: This could be in the form of a fixed deposit or even a high interest saving. Having a sum of money stashed away for emergency situations is the best thing you could ever do. This way when you’re in urgent need of cash, you won’t need to turn to your credit card.
  • Will power: Last but not the least; you need to have the will to save. There are a number of people who haven’t inculcated such a habit and end up finding themselves in a huge financial rut.

Unnecessary spending is one of the main reasons why a lot of people find themselves in debt. Mortgages and student loan repayments are other situations where you could find yourself short of cash. Always try to have an emergency financial plan should you realize that everyday funds are running out.

Author Bio: NATHAN BROWN of buyatt.com,  a site that offers savings and current information on att bundle and att uverse availability .

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28 Comments

  1. I like the tips, except for the prepaid cards. Those usually cost more to fund than using a credit or debt card. Why would you want someone to lose money just to save money?

    1. Prepaid cards are good for those that like to spend more than they should. It gives them a limit on what they can use for their spending habits.

    1. There are some downfalls to prepaid cards, but they can really help those that don’t want to carry cash. There are some good options for prepaid cards.

  2. I think the two links at the end are broken…so you may want to check that out.

    Avoiding debt is really difficult to as it’s so easy to overspend and avoid being disciplined. These are some great tips to help avoid getting into debt – particularly will power and the emergency fund.

  3. Good tips Grayson. One thing I’ve found to help avoid debt while trying to stay on a tight budget is to allow yourself a small amount for fun. That can make trying to avoid debt much easier if you know that you have X amount to spend on yourself however you see fit.

  4. What about the emotional component of spending? If you find something you just can’t live without but clearly cannot afford, take a 10 minute timeout and turn your brain to something completely different. In most cases the “need to buy” will wear off. This works for me time and time again!

  5. Good tips! We pay all of our bills online. Most on the 20th of the month and a few others on the first of the month. It works well with our budget.

    Also, aside from the prepaid cards, a person can buy a visa or mastercard anywhere that gift cards are sold for a predetermined amount. That is a great idea if you are traveling and need to book a hotel and do not want to use a traditional credit card for whatever reason.

    1. Good tip on the prepaid visa or mastercard. Those are good as well. You can use those for someone you love who might have a spending problem. It is like an allowance, but doesn’t make them feel as bad.

  6. I’ve never had a problem with credit card spending, but I know that many many people do. I think prepaid cards are smart for people who have had bad experiences in the past, but want to learn how to do things “right”. I know a lot of people hate credit cards and think the prepaid cards are mimicking credit card use, but the credit cards themselves aren’t necessarily bad ( I use my cards and enjoy using them-but I pay them off in full each year).

    1. That is good KK. Unfortunately, at lot of people have had issues with credit cards, including myself. It happens, but at least I learned from my mistake and now I use credit cards to help me, not hurt.

  7. I think willpower is probably the #1 thing that you need. If you don’t have any willpower, then it is much easier to fall into all kinds of bad situations with spending.

  8. One thing you did not mention which I think is right along the lines of the prepaid card and carries no fees is a PayPal card.

    With a PayPal Master Card, you can put money in PayPal and attach it to your bank account. Then deposit money in the PayPal account. Set PayPal not to withdraw from your checking account. Then you can use it just like a prepaid card with no fees.Since it is a Master Card it is accepted everywhere.

    It also will send you an e-mail every time it is used. If you have a smart phone, you can check the balance of the card through an app. If not, you can go online and see how much is left. If there is not enough money in PayPal, it just won’t let you make the purchase. It will just come across declined.

    It is also great for buying stuff online. Many internet sites allow you to pay via PayPal and those that don’t you can still use it as a credit card.

    1. That is true. I forgot the Paypal debit card. I actually have one and enjoy it. That could be a good way to teach people about money without having to use the cash method.