Living within your means can be a sore subject for some people. You’ve may have tried to do it the right way by taking care of your living expenses, paying your bills when they come in and having little to nothing left over to show for your daily grind. It can be disheartening.


There are things you can do to help alleviate some of your monthly expenses. Eating out is a huge expense you rarely give a second thought. On average, the average American orders food outside of their home about 4 times a week. If you are one of those people and are able to reduce that by half, you could save nearly $1,000 a year. 


If you’re experiencing hard times, there are traps you don’t want to fall into. For instance, you don’t want to fall prey to the notion that credit cards are an easy way to get what you want when you want it. Credit card debt can quickly become overwhelming. 


Before you accept an offer, it’s important to learn about the different cards available to you and how they can work in your favor. Research the cards and how they may be able to benefit you if used properly. Take the time to understand the difference between a gold card and a platinum credit card.


Gold vs. Platinum


When considering if the benefits of a platinum card will offset the associated fees, make sure you read the fine print. Gold and platinum credit cards are appealing to some consumers because of how much and often they use them.


Examine your circumstances and decide if you meet the minimum income and credit criterion to qualify for these more elite cards. Gold cards come with more perks, higher credit limits and typically an annual fee. 


Comparatively, platinum cards have even more generous perks for usage, higher interest rates and higher annual fees. A platinum card is the top tier most creditors offer and is designed for the consumer who will pay the balance in full at the end of each month. Platinum cards have more stringent income and credit score requirements than gold cards. 


Bad Press

Despite all the negativity surrounding credit cards, if you use them wisely, they can offer quite a few benefits. Many offer perks for loyal use; the only string attached is to actually use the card. The more you use it, the more perks you can rack up. The key is to not overspend and avoid the interest charges by paying your balance in full every month. 


With a bit of discipline and understanding, you should be able to use your credit card the same way you would a debit card. The secret is simply making sure you don’t spend more than you have. 


When you use credit wisely, not only will it boost your overall credit rating but can let the card work for you. For example, some offer gift cards in exchange for acquired points. You could let your points grow all year long and then cash them in for gift cards at the end of the year. At that time, you could use those gift cards as either gifts or a way to finance your holiday shopping. 


Many credit cards nowadays also offer free credit monitoring. If you are trying to build or improve your credit, having this tool could help you achieve your financial goals. Not only will they show you your current score, they will typically offer tips to help you boost your rating. 


Credit is not the enemy if you use it wisely. Let your spending power work in your favor, not against you.