If you step back and look at your finances, you will find that you are in one of three stages of financial being.
The first stage is “survival mode”. This is where you are just barely getting by. There is just enough cash flow to put a roof over your head, food on the table, gas in the car. But very little room for anything else. This is a dangerous place to be as any life event – big or small – can tip the scales and start you on a downward spiral. Credit is often used as a crutch, with the best of intentions, to balance out the budget.
The next stage is the “breathing room” stage. You are here if you have enough cash flow (not including credit) to survive and to deal with things as they come up. If the car breaks down, you can get it fixed. Maybe not right away, or it may set you back and you will have to adjust to catch up. Credit can be used as a safety net but caution should be stressed to keep the credit use at a minimum and ensure you can manage the payments comfortably.
The third stage, which is where we all strive to be, is the “comfort zone”. In this stage you are surviving, you can deal with irregular expenses as they come up, and you have the flexibility to do some or all of the things you want. Often times, credit is used to “enhance” this position. A dangerous game. You should proceed with caution.
So, what stage are you in? Where do you strive to be? The first step is AWARENESS. The second step is ACTION!