Smart Ways To Control Spending With A Charge Card

Charge cards are very similar to credit cards, but they work in a slightly different way. If you’re not expecting those differences, then they can cause you a shock when it comes to paying off what you owe. Unlike credit cards, where you pay off your debt over time, charge cards require you to pay them off completely at the end of every month.

While this is a useful way of spreading out your budget over a month, if you’re unable to pay in full, then the costs can start to skyrocket. It is easy to keep your spending down with a charge card, and if you’re struggling to control your spending, then these tips might help.

1. Delete your Details

It’s very easy to overspend online. It’s even easier to pay when your favourite online outlets already have your payment details filled in. If you have to manually input your card details every time you want to buy, that can help put a pause on buying what you don’t really need.

2. Stop Eating Out

You don’t have to make the decision to only eat home-cooked food for the rest of your life, but if you’re spending a lot of money on restaurants, then it might be time to change your habits. Restaurant spending is easy, and if you know that you’re putting the bill on your card to worry about another day, then those extra bottles of wine will quickly add up. Give your charge card a rest and cook something at home instead.

3. Look for Rewards

Supermarkets are one of the places where you’re going to be very tempted to use your charge card. While not everywhere accepts them, if your supermarket of choice does take charge card payments, then check to see if they have any reward schemes available. These can help to chip away at your overall shopping bill, meaning that you’ll be paying less at the end of the month.

4. Keep a Record

The more that you recognise where your money is going, the easier it will be to control your budget. Keep a journal of where you’re spending your money and keep a close eye on the amounts. Over time, you’ll be able to identify your spending patterns, and that will make it much easier to work out why, when, and where you are overspending unnecessarily. If you notice that you keep overspending every time that you visit family, it might be better to leave the charge card at home for the next family gathering. You can even use a high-tech way of tracking your spending, with a wide range of apps available so that your budgeting is always close to hand.

5. Control your Limits

If you have a good credit score, then you’re usually going to be given much more leeway on your charge card spending amounts. Don't be tempted to opt for the maximum amounts available to you. Consider what you’ll be using your card for. If it’s just for emergency rent payments, then make sure that the card limit is just a single month's rent. If you consistently overspend in the supermarket, then keep your limit at the maximum of your weekly food budget. This gives you the safety net that a charge card is designed for, without giving you the temptation to buy more than you need.

6. Know Your Payment Day

If you don't have enough money to pay off your charge card at the end of the month then you're going to start accruing interest. Always be aware of your payment date so that you are not taken by surprise. This might mean having a little more shopping discipline, but the penalties of not being able to make your charge card payments will far outweigh the momentary pleasure you get from treating yourself. If you know in advance that you are not going to be able to make your payments, look for alternative sources of money to help cover you. If you borrow a small amount from a family member or friend, they won’t charge you the high interest rates that your charge card provider will.

7. Know Your Goals

If you’re trying to get tighter control over your spending because you’re saving up for a holiday, the wedding of your dreams, or you want to build up a deposit for a house, then remind yourself of those targets. Keep a post-it note attached to your charge card so that every time you pull it out of your wallet or purse, you’re reminded of that dream goal. This can really help to stop you buying things that you don’t need and can seriously reduce your chances of overspending.

8. Take Control of Your Finances

Everyone overspends on occasion, and for those times a charge card can be very useful. However, if you find that you’re relying on your cards at the end of every month just to get you through to payday, then there’s a good chance that you’re spending more money than you earn. This will result in using your card earlier and earlier and having to wait longer until you get paid. Teach yourself how to budget, and find ways to reduce your overall spending on food, clothes, utilities, and entertainment. There are plenty of top money-saving tips available, so if you’re consistently over-budget every month, it might be time to make some financial changes.

9. Ensure It Is Right for You

Controlling your spending with a charge card is possible, however before you make this commitment it is worth ensuring it is right for you. If you are confident that you pay off your card balance each month in full, have a good credit score and will make use of its features, then it is a suitable option. The card should suit your lifestyle, as opposed to hinder it, as this will only lead to extra payment charges and fees if you don’t pay your balance back in full or on time.