People carry credit card debt for any number of reasons. Some of these reasons make sense. But many don't, no matter how you try to spin it. Since young couples often do battle over finances, you and your significant other would be wise to discuss your approach to credit card use before you walk down the aisle.
Unexpected expenses, such as a car repair, are a common reason you might turn to credit cards. You can avoid this by building a rainy day fund into your budget. If you routinely rely on credit cards for car repairs, medical bills or home repairs, you spend too much time reacting to rather than preparing for financial emergencies. Do your best to reduce spending on non-essential items so you can build up enough savings to cover emergencies.
Some people justify routine credit card use by pointing to the "buy now, pay later" consumer culture. In 2010, the average American card holder carried $5,100 in debt, according to a U.S. Census Bureau report. People have become more comfortable with carrying credit card debt so they can load up on toys and bells and whistles. This approach might gratifying over the short-term. But somewhere down the road, when it comes time to pay the piper, you'll likely regret it.
Your wedding is one example of a major event that costs a lot of money. Others include having a baby and buying or renovating a home. Without a sizable savings account (or help from Mom and Dad) you might be tempted to turn to credit cards to cover large expenses. Once you resign yourself to using plastic to decorate your baby's room, you might decide to go overboard with top of the line everything. You'll also probably spend more on certain items with a credit card than you would with cash. The best idea is to rein in your spending on big events, or even postpone them until you're in a better financial position.
It's easy to be tempted by credit card promotions that promise zero percent interest over a period of time, or strong rewards for using the cards. If you have a large purchase you know you can pay off before a promotional period ends, using your credit card makes sense. Many retailers offer zero percent store cards to induce sales on major items. Similarly, using a card with good rewards makes sense if you pay balances quickly, before interest accrues. Just keep the old adage, "know thyself," in the back of your mind. If you know you don't have the discipline to pay the cards off quickly, try not to use them.
Neil Kokemuller has been an active business, finance and education writer and content media website developer since 2007. He has been a college marketing professor since 2004. Kokemuller has additional professional experience in marketing, retail and small business. He holds a Master of Business Administration from Iowa State University.