You'll have a credit limit (but that is irrelevant for my rule), so let's say you have spent $200 at the store, you should be able to make AT LEAST a $50 payment. Even if a $50 payment isn't due, that's my general rule of thumb. Just disreguard your credit limit, and ask yourself how much of a payment you will be able to make once your mandatory bills have been paid. For me, it's about $60-75 depending on the month. And this is AFTER I have paid my rent, car insurance, internet etc AND filled up my gas tank, and my fridge with enough food for at least a week or two. So that's what you calculate, your 'leftover' money, and how much you can spend is 4 times that much.
How do you know if you're ready to have a credit card?
1.) Do you still make late payments on anything? If you do, then you should NOT open up a store credit card! Chances are, 9 times out of 10, if you are making late payments on bills you either don't have a sufficient amount of money or flat out, just don't pay attention to due dates. If it's the latter, you REALLY shouldn't open a credit card, because not only will your little store account be gaining interest out the ying yang, but you'll get late fees, sometimes as early as the next morning after your due date.
2.) Do you have self control? As I previously stated, you will be given a credit limit, and if you make anything from $10,000-15,000 a year (a typical college kid, part time job income) it will probably be in the upper hundreds, they'll cut you off at $500 or $750. So you CAN spend that if you choose to, but with self control, and following the rule above, you won't let the account get out of hand.
3.) Do you really "NEED" one? I can't believe I'm about to admit this but you don't NEED clothes or shoes to be happy and keep your heart beating (now excuse me while I go take some Advil because that hurt to say), but this is what I mean by that.....I have 2 store credit cards, 1 is to Kohls, and 1 is to J. Crew, obviously I wanted both of them, but I "needed" them too. My Kohls card I opened so John and I could get a lot of stuff for our apartment, towels, dishes, coffee makers, and we do use it for wanted items too, but they are still kind of needs. New shoes for him, when his old ones were falling apart (men I tell ya....sheesh!) slacks for me for work and other things. My J. Crew card I already explained in my Experiences with J. Crew post, but I'll go a little bit more in depth for you. When I turned 21, and felt more like an adult, I really felt this overwhelming urge to dress more grown-up. I still dress youthful, it's not matronly, but I feel like some of the things that are age appropriate at 19 really aren't ok at 21. As ridiculous as that sounds, there really is a huge change in responsibility. If you get the horizontal license, you should start considering a change of wardrobe like I did. I wanted to be able to purchase higher quality clothes and more classic, timeless jewelry pieces that would stand the test of style's time. With that, obviously, comes money, a bracelet that is going to last me decades, isn't going to come cheap. So I opened up the J. Crew card knowing that they would have pieces that would fit those needs. It allows to me buy nicer things to start incorporating in my wardrobe, so I can replace some of the really old Forever 21 items, and thrifted clothing.
Just remember, credit cards can be a trap, a lot of places can tempt you with the oh so common, "If you apply for a credit card, you'll get ___% off your purchase today!" "UMM HELLO! WHY WOULD I NOT WANT __% OFF?" You're thinking. So don't fall victim to their scams, because once you apply to get your % off your purchase that day you might actually get approved, and once you get approved, you can easily max it out. Be careful, and stay away from credit cards, only open them when you are ready.
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