Tempting, fun items constantly beckon to us. Giving in to these purchases steers us away from our budget, runs up debt, and puts our financial future in jeopardy.
Being able to control our spending is key to maintaining a tidy nest egg of cash, as well as a good credit score. Here are seven things you should never buy to maintain a good credit score:
#1: A boat.
Picturing yourself tooling around the lake in a shiny boat, with wind in your hair? Well, stop. Boats are costly on the front end, but that’s far from the end of the story. Gas, insurance, storage, and repairs double or triple the cost of the boat. This spending can put you in danger of not being able to meet your other bills on time, tanking your credit score.
Only buy it if: You have the money for a big down payment, and can easily calculate the boat’s complete upkeep into your monthly budget.
#2: Extensive home remodels.
Sure, it would be nice to have a new kitchen. And an updated bathroom. And a screened in porch. And…wait a minute? Where’s all my savings?
While it’s smart homeownership to keep your home well-maintained, remodeling can get out of hand, fast. Jumping into these without serious thought can put you over-budget, and leave you with a house that you have so much money invested in you can never sell and recoup it. Avoid major home remodels that will suck your savings and leave you with a bunch of debt and no way to sell your home if you need to.
Only buy it if: You home is really out-dated, the homes around you are updated, and you know your updates will increase the amount of money you could get out of it if you sell it. Also, save up the money ahead of time so you don’t have to take out a home equity loan or charge the cost on a credit card.
#3: Fancy engagement rings.
You have probably heard you need to spend two month’s salary on your love’s engagement ring. Uh, which diamond company decided that for us?
Unfortunately, many couple go overboard in their engagement ring purchases, and it sets them up for deep debt, late payments, and low credit scores. A heftily priced ring can even end up delaying being able to purchase a home. Don’t put yourself in financial jeopardy over a bauble! Look at other ring options. Smaller diamonds, or other stones may pack the same lovely punch for only a fraction of the cost of a big, pricey diamond.
Only buy it if: You are an already well-established couple with a home, no credit card debt, and a set plan to pay for the wedding and honeymoon.
#4: A motorcycle.
This is another purchase that sounds fun, but ends up being a money-sucking nightmare. Motorcycles are expensive, and require regular maintenance, gas, and insurance. They are also dangerous. Is it worth the risk of wrecking and putting you out of work indefinitely? Medical debt is one of the biggest reasons consumers file for bankruptcy. Stick with your trusty automobile.
Only buy it if: You grew up around motorcycles and are comfortable riding them, you already have your other vehicles paid off, and you don’t have children depending on you.
#5: Designer clothes.
Do brand names delight you, and make you want to shell out major cash? Just say no! Regularly buying clothes, shoes, and accessories with brand names can put you in the bind of lots of debt and no savings. How will you handle an unforeseen emergency without missing your bills and ruining your credit score? Opt for less-expensive brands that don’t stress your budget. At the least, shop for your beloved brands at outlet stores, and limit purchases to one or two a year.
Only buy it if: You are able to pay for it up front, and already have a three month savings cushion in the bank.
Some monetary outlays that can be detrimental to your credit score aren’t material purchases, but are worrisome nonetheless. A couple of these are:
#6: Lavish vacations.
Tahiti. Bali. Greece. If far-away lands sing you their siren song, plug up your ears and get back to work. Expensive vacations are fun, and can be educational, true. The not-so-great thing is, once you get back home, there is no way you can “sell” them back if you get into a financial bind. In addition, many people overspend on trips, setting them up for big credit card bills when they get home. Why not take a smaller vacation that you can more effectively fit into your budget?
Only buy it if: You save the money to pay for it up front, you have vacation days (so you don’t miss a paycheck), and you don’t have any credit card debt.
#7: Outrageous education.
The news is full of the student loan debt crisis affecting today’s young people. It’s smart, whether you are the parent or student, to avoid this if possible. Why put your entire future on unstable footing so early in life? Avoid the super-expensive universities that will require tens of thousands of dollars in tuition that will take decades to pay back. Opt for state schools or community colleges that offer education for a fraction of the cost. Remember, many types of student loans are not able to be discharged in bankruptcy, so loading yourself down with them can haunt you, and your credit score, for years.
Only buy it if: There is already money in the bank to pay the tuition, and it doesn’t strap the parents or the student.
I’m sure you are thinking we just took all the fun things in life away from you. Not so! There is nothing better and more comforting than creating an environment where you and your family are financially stable and secure. Make maintaining a high credit score and a healthy financial future a top priority by avoiding these purchasing landmines. You will see that, most of the time, the temptation fades and you are glad you didn’t shell out your hard-earned cash for these purchases.
What big purchases do you (and your credit report) regret buying?