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The college student's guide to credit cards - Part 3

Danielle Bly

Issue date: 11/20/09 Section: News
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Remember the number one rule of credit cards: don't spend money that you don't have.
Media Credit: Ireneusz Skorupa
Remember the number one rule of credit cards: don't spend money that you don't have.
[Click to enlarge]
Throughout the past two articles, I've discussed credit cards in detail, giving you information about the pros and cons of credit cards, and how to evaluate credit card offers. For that information, visit The Observer online at This week I'll be explaining how to manage your credit cards responsibly once you own one, and will discuss a few alternatives to credit cards.

How to manage credit cards responsibly:

Once you choose a credit card, it's easy to get into trouble with late fees, overdraft fees, and paying the minimum balance. Here are some basic money management tips that can help you stay out of financial trouble:

Pay in full every month: When you decide to own a credit card, commit from the beginning to pay your balance in full each month. I know from experience that it can be tough to pay in full each month, but by forcing yourself to pay you will avoid a lot of long-term problems in the future.

Leave your card at home: If you're going out and know that you won't need the card, leave it in a secure place at home. There is no temptation to spend if you don't have your card.

Pay your credit card several times a month: Most credit card companies offer online bill payment. Set up an account for your card, and use it to pay your balance throughout the month. This will help you avoid a large bill at the end of the month, and keep you from spending over your limit.

Use mini-budgets: Most people have one or two areas where they tend to overspend each month (clothes, electronics, etc). Try creating a mini-budget for these areas to help you spend less.

Keep credit card rewards in perspective: Although credit card rewards like cashback and points are great, they should never be used to justify a purchase. These perks can sometimes cause you to overspend, so be cautious with them.

Stop using the card if you accrue a balance: It can be easy to get behind on your credit card payments or not to pay your bill in full each month. If you find yourself in this situation, commit to shelving your card until the balance is paid. If the card is too tempting for you, give it to a family member or trusted friend to hold for you while you pay off your balance.
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In This Issue


  • Can you name this place?
  • Class inspires students to start CSEC
  • CWRU's Eco-Party
  • Eyewitness: Editor-in-chief for a day
  • Have you heard about Grupo de Capoeira?
  • Spectrum's sixth annual Drag Ball takes place Saturday
  • The college student's guide to credit cards - Part 3
  • USG creates transparency committee to improve communication
  • USG Brief


  • Colts and Saints are NFL's teams to beat
  • Five thoughts on the '09 season
  • Football's success is built on this senior class
  • Men win Veale Classic
  • Spartan Spotlight: Erin Hollinger
  • Spartans cap perfect 10-0 regular season
  • Spartans get first-ever win against B-W
  • Women's basketball drops lidlifter

Fun Page

  • Combo Scramble Solution
  • Crossword Solution
  • Sudoku Solutions


  • Discriminating against smokers again
  • Editorial: CWRU athletics' accomplishments praiseworthy
  • It takes two to have unsafe sex
  • Nothing much humane about humanity
  • SEC referendum deserves impartial consideration
  • The gap year: volunteering
  • Where is your favorite campus spot to chill, nap or relax?


  • American Music Masters Series wraps up week with Janis Joplin tribute
  • CIM graduate returns to Cleveland with jazz, cabaret aspirations
  • Delta Gamma swims for sight
  • Green is the new black: eco-friendly fashion
  • Hitting the spot: Atlas Sound
  • Holiday season with a cranberry craze
  • Latest installment in popular Call of Duty series improves on already high quality franchise
  • Sigma Psi hosts Mr. CWRU competition to benefit local communities
  • Starving Student: simple grub
  • The Buzz

Cross Country

  • Women finish third in region, qualify for nationals


  • Bracket Breakdown
  • Football Gameday: Case vs. Trine

Sex and Dating

  • Passive pregnancy prevention plan


  • Crooks UAA's Coach of the Year
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