Credit cards can be helpful tools for an individual or couple. They can allow you to make a purchase and gain benefits connected to your particular credit card. A benefit that any responsible credit card user gains is a healthy credit score, which opens doors for those who want to take out loans, rent or even be considered for certain jobs.

But note the term “responsible” above. If you are irresponsible when using a credit card, you can build up credit card debt and a low credit score. Both of those risks put you and your family in stressful circumstances and limit the possibilities that are out there for you. Fox Business provides a list of credit card habits to avoid.

This is one of two posts that will outline the important advice:

Prioritize your pile

It’s amazing that with the many emails we get every day that we still get the handful of paper mail we do. It’s easy to empty the mailbox just to throw our mail on a messy counter. But amid the junk mail you likely get every day are credit card bills. Read your statements and keep them in a special place where you will remember to pay them in time. Paying a bill late not only will cost you in late fees, but it can up the interest rate of your credit card.

Don’t be a minimalist

If you use a credit card simply because you want to make big purchases that you can’t afford currently, then you have a card for the wrong reason. You ideally want to be able to pay off the full credit card bill when it’s due. While you might be a minimalist when it comes to style, you don’t want to be a minimalist when it comes to paying your credit card bill. If that is your credit use style, then you will spend more money in the long run than what your purchases actually cost due to interest.

Our next post will continue this list of tips. Keep in mind that these tips are in no way meant to cast judgment on anyone who’s struggling with debt. But these are just the basic rules of thumb when it comes to avoiding crippling credit card debt. There are times of desperation where families must rely on credit, and then there are those who end up with more credit card debt than they intended due to unexpected employment, medical or other hardships.

Source: Fox Business, “Seven Worst Credit Card Habits,” Karen Haywood Queen, April 11, 2012