The cost of raising a family sometimes exceeds the regular income of parents, especially when family emergencies crop up, or when it is necessary to spend on expensive but necessary items.
If you are a parent who is the sole breadwinner of the family, you may sometimes find it hard to balance the household budget.
When emergency expenses arise, you may even need to work extra hours just to make ends meet.
So even if you feel you are financially stable, it is still convenient to have dependable credit access for emergency needs. For instance, you might be surprised that you and your spouse will have a new baby ahead of your planned date.
While health insurance can provide coverage for many types of medical emergencies such as premature births, you will still need to spend before your insurance claim gets approved. What if it is still days ahead before you will receive your regular salary?
This is where having a credit card on hand becomes quite practical.
As long as you know how to properly and responsibly use a credit card, it can really make your life a little easier especially during times of unexpected urgent need.
Necessary big ticket purchase
Credit cards can be used not only in times of medical emergencies but also in times of necessary big ticket purchases.
For instance, if you are telecommuting to work but your computer suddenly bogged down, you might need to purchase a brand new computer especially if the old one is already beyond repair. This is especially true if you are trying to beat an important deadline.
Here are some ways you can effectively manage a family credit card either as contingency option or as part of your regular family budgeting and spending.
1. No impulsive buying
You must set specific purposes for your credit card.
All purchases should be planned ahead such as for paying the monthly bills and buying groceries on a weekly basis. You should not allow yourself, your spouse or your children to purchase items that are not included in the monthly budget.
You do not necessarily have to list down all the specific items or brands. You may, instead, just keep a list of the allowed categories and price ranges. For instance, you can set a budget for leisure like watching movies in cinemas for a maximum of one movie per week per family member.
2. Limits on individual spending
You can have card extensions for every member of the family but you can also set the spending limit of each one.
If you have teenage children, you can teach them to be financially responsible if you allow them some level of autonomy in spending through the use of a credit card. However, you should set limits on the amount they can spend.
At first, it may seem difficult to teach financial discipline to teenagers in this manner but it can be done. You only need to work out a balance between trust and discipline.
3. Large chunk credit payments
Instead of paying for just the minimum amount due, you either pay the entire debt per payment cycle or pay a large chunk of your debt. This way, you can avoid accumulating large amounts of debt because of accumulated interest. You may also consolidate your multiple cards into one to simplify repayment.
Big ticket purchases may sometimes be difficult to pay for in just one payment, but you can pay them in large installments instead of allowing the interest to accumulate. This is a surefire way of avoiding getting caught in a debt cycle that can be difficult to get out of.
4. Rewards purchases and perks
You can maximize credit card use for your family if you will take advantage of the rewards systems they usually come with. Most credit card service providers offer points to their loyal customers for using their card in buying specific products or brands, and in participating shops.
You can accumulate points that you can use for free purchases. For instance, you may use the card for regular purchases of specific products or brands.
Find the right card for you
You may feel overwhelmed by the wide range of choices when it comes to credit card products. In fact, the top five card providers offer at least 30,000 options.
The rule of thumb here is to choose the card option that has minimal interest rates and provides the kinds of rewards that suit your purpose.
For instance, if you or a family member is a frequent flyer, you can choose cards that reward airline ticket purchases.
If you are a parent, you need to know how to prioritize your expenses using credit cards.
You should be frugal and wise in spending, but you should also not deny your family some of the nice perks that having credit cards can afford all of you.