How Credit Cards Really Work

How Do Credit Cards Really Work?
A Guide For Anyone With A Credit Card.

 

A lot of readers of personal finance blogs are already advanced in their knowledge of how money works; how to make it, how to spend it and how to save it. It’s almost an elite club where we push each other to find new ways to stretch a dollar, make a buck or aim for early retirement. This time, I am writing for those who are not masters of their finance; people like you and me: they may be on either end of the income scale, they drive on the same side of the street and yet know nothing about credit cards.

 

These days, I am working with people and helping them understand their credit card debts.  It’s no wonder that we can get ourselves into financial messes and not really understand how it happened because no one has taken the time to explain how credit cards work.

 

CREDIT

 

Credit. It’s like a four letter word with gatekeepers on either side. Credit seems to be a confusing animal. Here is the simplified version of the way credit cards work. I wish everyone would take a moment and read or share.

 

The Credit Card

 

Credit is money that is lent to people who may have demonstrated the ability to manage money through other means as reported by the credit bureaus. Credit cards are a device to access funds that a bank or institution has given you access to. It is not your money, it is the bank’s money. If you use that money, it is still the bank’s money. You have borrowed it.

 

Let me repeat that. You are borrowing someone else’s money and the credit card belongs to the bank, not to you.

 

In order to assist you, and to be accountable to you, banks issue statements on a regular basis. Generally, they send you a statement monthly that outlines each charge or payment or adjustment that occurred during the last month, if any.

 

The statements have a due date scheduled on them, generally 21-26 days after the date of the statement, and the statement shows you a balance due. This balance is the amount YOU have spent or accrued over the last month. Pay that amount by the due date, and you’ve received a free loan. Seriously.

 

There’s a second amount on the statement called minimum due. This is a good faith payment that the bank expects from you to show that you intend to pay off that balance in time, if you cannot pay it in full. The minimum payment will keep your account in good standing but will not deflect interest from accumulating on the balance that remains.

 

Let’s simplify that: Pay full balance by due date, no interest to pay. Do not pay full balance by due date, then your balance is subject to interest from the date you spent it.

 

I want to mention here that banks are businesses. I am not advocating for the amount of money they make, as I think it’s truly excessive (my opinion). However, judging by the amount of people who do not understand how to use a credit card, it’s no wonder that they are making oodles of money and you are losing your hard-earned money in return.

 

Example: If you borrow a library book and don’t return it on time, the library fines you. This is no different. If you choose to pay in instalments on a credit card, that’s your choice to do so – that’s why the credit cards set out minimum payments.  It’s enough to keep your account current, but if you do not return the funds in a timely manner, there are fines to pay.

 

Interest on the Credit Card

 

Interest is how banks make lending money affordable. It’s how they make their money. And, if you are reading personal finance blogs, it’s all about how to make the money, right?

 

Interest rates on credit cards can range anywhere from 12 – 30%. Banks generally have lower interest rates available to those with good credit, but there’s a catch:

No rewards, good credit = lower interest rate 

Rewards, good credit = middle interest rate 

No rewards, bad credit = higher interest rate

Rewards, bad credit = highest interest rate 

*there are exceptions to every rule, but this is a general perspective.

 

Before deciding on a credit card that earns you miles, or points or freebies, you need to consider how you use your credit. If you pay your balance in full each and every month, a higher interest rate and higher rewards would benefit you because you wouldn’t pay interest. However, if you carry a balance, then you would be paying interest on these funds, and would have to consider if the cost of carrying the balance at that interest rate is worth the rewards you are receiving. It doesn’t make sense to pay a high interest rate to earn air miles, for example, if you could turn that interest into a flight by the time you are done!

 

Before deciding on a rewards card, make the decision to pay off the balance every month; otherwise, you are paying for the rewards. Why not just pay for what you want? Click To Tweet

 

Interest rates are set by market standards: cost to borrow money (if the bank borrows), cost to run the business, cost of risk from customers, etc. The standard credit card will have a range of interest rates from 18 – 22%, and more if you are higher risk. This is why the cost of borrowing money is so expensive.

 

Remember, when you don’t pay your borrowed funds back by the due date, you will owe interest!

 

Cash advances on the Credit Card

 

A lot of people have no idea what or how a cash advance works! A cash advance is when you use an ATM machine to withdraw cash from your credit card. Alternatively, it can also be when you use your credit card for gambling or lottery. These transactions are often processed as a cash advance.

 

Your credit provider likely has a fee for cash advances, as cash advances are a service provided in conjunction with the Mastercard and other networks. Like a scenario where you withdraw funds from another bank’s ATM, the other bank will likely have a service fee attached as well.

 

That’s not all that happens with cash advances. Interest begins the day that you take the cash out, and will continue until your full balance, purchases and cash advances together, are paid off.

 

Cash can be used for nearly anything and is not traceable as easily as a purchase, which makes it a higher risk transaction.

 

Cash advances are usually charged at a higher interest rate because they are a higher risk to the bank. There are usually fees associated with obtaining a cash advance, and interest starts on the first day that you take one out.

Let me repeat that: cash advances accrue interest the first day you take it out.

CREDIT CARDS Before you assume you understand the credit card, read this. I was shocked at the questions that I heard over and over. Here are your answers. #credit #creditcard #debt #wealth #money #budget

Credit cards have complicated repayment methods, and are individual to each company. There’s a good chance that your payment is spread between regular purchases and cash advances, after paying fees and interest. If you carry a balance on your credit card, you will likely not be able to directly pay back the advance. Interest on that cash advance will continue, at a higher rate, while you pay down the remainder of the balance. That couple hundred bucks you borrowed will be eating at your payments for a long time.

 

Credit cards are fantastic tools for managing your money, building credit and earning rewards, but only if you pay them in full every month. If you carry a balance, you are borrowing money, and that means the lender can charge you to do this, so don’t be surprised at the result!

Using your Credit Card Correctly

Many people get credit cards and think they know how they work, but be sure you do. Understand how interest is calculated. Be aware of annual fees, late fees, interest charges, and interest rates. I am sure to get feedback from some people that this is common knowledge, but I assure you, it’s not. If you have any questions about how credit works, please send me a message or comment below, because credit is not an easy concept for everyone, and there’s no reason to be lining someone else’s pocket when it could easily be your own.

 

This post may contain affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission if you choose to purchase through these links. Please see my disclosure for more information. Amazon Affiliate Disclosure: I am a participant in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by providing links to Amazon.ca and affiliated sites.

Does Money Breed Insensitivity?

Does Money Make You Insensitive?

 

Many of you may have listened to Paula Pant’s Afford Anything podcast with Suze Orman where Orman completely destroys the idea of FIRE (Financial Independent Retire Early). I was utterly speechless at the comments that she made.

 

Orman’s Perspectives

 

Orman speaks of the money she has, her private island, her prior 5 houses and 5 cars, and the tens of millions (or more) that she has made over her lifetime. She thinks retirement requires millions of dollars, and that $80 thousand a year is not enough to live on.

 

She goes so far as to talk about extremes, like what if a pole goes through the front of your windshield and you are disabled? She also thinks parents should pay for private school and post-secondary education for children.

 

When did people with money forget what it’s like to not have money?

 

What Orman did not realize was that she was so opinionated, she made listeners like me absolutely sick. From the idea that lower income earners can never dream of FIRE, and that FIRE will break our economy, it was demoralizing.

 

Orman is not the only one who forgets what it’s like to not have a 6-figure income. My background of working for professionals reminds me of the differences between the haves and the have nots.

 

Does Privilege Breed Insensitivity?

 

Some people find it encouraging to see others who have amassed a large income, but there are others who simply did not have the means to attend a post-secondary education institution for the extra years it takes to become a doctor, lawyer, or other professional designation. What bothers me the most is when the assistant/employee/lower-wage earner is clearly an important and necessary part of the foundation of a high wage earner’s enterprise, and yet they are treated as unnecessary, and paid either under a living wage or just at a living wage.

 

I want to ask them, was there a time when you did not know how you were going to pay rent? Did you ever have to decide between going on a vacation or investing in your retirement? Did you ever stop to think that your employees do not have the same options as you in life? And yet, without them, you would not be as successful as you are today.

 

I spoke about the inequalities in my minimum wage post, and still wonder what it will take for people like Orman to realize that the options for her and the options for the rest of us will never be the same.

 

Some of us will be fortunate, and may have a successful career, minimal health issues, and be able to plan for retirement. Some of us will always be playing catch up; hoping we can work long enough to save for retirement.  But for those who are extremely wealthy, why do you forget the struggles? Why do you discount the privilege?

 

While I am not saying that those who are wealthy beyond their needs should give handouts to others, I am really hoping that they consider paving the way for some others to find opportunities. Many wealthy people use charitable donations to minimize taxes, but when was the last time they stepped out of their private island comfort zone and gave a hand up? Got their hands dirty, and blessed people who work hard and may never have enough to travel their continent, never mind the world?

 

Callout to the Wealthy

 

This is a callout to all those who have had tremendous success. Please reach out to someone and help them on their way. People like Orman need to stop putting others down for not having as much as she was blessed with, and she is not a matriarch or model for the rest of us. She is someone who has been fortunate and forgets that our life doesn’t need to be 45 years of steady work in the event of a tragic accident or dire straits.

 

The FIRE movement will still pay taxes, and will open up other jobs that may not otherwise be available. It’s all about options, and when people like Orman tell you that it’s stupid to desire the freedom of options, and that her words are “truths”, she forgets that there may be other paths, and other roads which can lead to the same place.

 

Are you pro FIRE or do you think Orman is right that it’s a slippery slide to the end? Do you think privileged folk forget the rest of us? I’d like to hear from you.

 

This post may contain affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission if you choose to purchase through these links. Please see my disclosure for more information. Amazon Affiliate Disclosure: I am a participant in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by providing links to Amazon.ca and affiliated sites.

Passive Marketing Strategies for Direct Sales and MLM Network Marketing Sellers

Passive Marketing Strategies for Direct Sales and MLM Network Marketing Sellers

 

MLMs have a bad reputation, but they don’t need to. Passive marketing takes much of the bad rep out of the name, as it doesn’t involve hard selling. 

 

Passive Marketing Strategies for MLMDirect Sales_Network Marketing Sellers

 

If you haven’t been following my MLM and Direct Sales posts, start here: 

Passive MarketingDirect Sales: How and Why It Could Be Your Best Money Maker

Side Hustle Showdown: Etsy (with MLM/DS book information)

MLM & Network Marketing 

 

kindle

The Hustle

 

So I decided to start selling Avon again. I enjoy their products, and it’s been a couple of years since I sold, so I was running low on my favourite products. I signed up under a friend to restart my business, and picked up some books. 

 

 

Passive Marketing

 

This time around, I am doing things in a more passive manner. If you are looking to grow your business quickly to start making money, and excel at network marketing, I recommend my 30-day book: MLM and Network Marketing. If you want to do it passively, then you will not see money immediately, but you will see growth. 

 

 

Passive Marketing Strategies

 

On Saturday, a neighbour and I held a small yard sale. It was impromptu, and not a lot of signage went into it. I only had yard sale items from the last one I had a year ago, therefore I thought I’d put out the same items and see what happens. 

 

A lot of my items were overstock from Avon, so I knew those who would be interested in my products would likely (about 1 of every 2 people) be interested to know if I still sold Avon. I placed out 6 brochures and some business cards for the taking. 

 

Now, I have also learned there’s the impromptu yard or garage sale, and the there’s the planned one. Since this one was totally impromptu, I didn’t expect a lot of traffic. We sat out for about 3 hours, and sold a bit of stuff. While it wasn’t in the hundreds of dollars, it was still worth my time. After the traffic died down, I packed everything up and donated it to the local Good Will. 

 

Normally, I would have seen enough traffic to see those brochures all go home, but this time I had some left. Here’s what I did next. 

 

I have a bus stop with a shelter on my street, so I packaged the brochures in two bags to help keep them dry, and left two at the bus stop. This stop is a busier one, so I expect that they will find a new home rather quickly, and if I’m lucky, they will be left on the bus for new people as well. 

 

 

Conclusion: 

 

Passive Marketing #1: Wherever you are, leave a few books out for people to see. If they ask to take one home, you may get a deal out of it. 

 

Passive Marketing #2: If you have a public gathering point near your house, like a bus stop, it’s the perfect spot to leave reading material. People are waiting and need something to do other than looking at their phones all day. Sometimes you will luck out and the right person will pick up your brochure for an order. 

 

Alternatively, that could also lead to free advertising on the bus, at the person’s work, or many other places. It can also lead to the garbage or recycling, but that’s a chance you take with passive marketing. 

 

Lastly, you want to look at your demographics. The people that love Avon the most tend to be older people, and people that don’t travel to the stores often. Seniors are perfect examples. Seniors ride the bus because they may not drive anymore, but still need to get around. Taking a bus trip isn’t something they gear up to do often, so the idea of an ordering service would appeal to them. Plus, who doesn’t love the Avon Lady? 😉 

 

Want more about this side hustle? Comment below, and I will continue to post/answer your questions! 

 

Recommended Readings:

Side Hustle Showdown: Amazon Kindle Publishing

Passive Savings Vehicle for Canadians: Mylo

 

This post may contain affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission if you choose to purchase through these links. Please see my disclosure for more information. Amazon Affiliate Disclosure: I am a participant in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by providing links to Amazon.ca and affiliated sites.