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Exercise care with credit cards

If you're coming up short, it's OK to pull out a credit card as long as you pay off the balance at the end of the month, says Kristen Hagopian, author of "Brilliant Frugal Living."

By paying off the bill at the end of the month, you save yourself fees and credit card interest.

"I like to use credit cards that reward me with gift cards and then turn around and use those for necessities like groceries," Hagopian says.

When using a credit card, make sure you read the fine print and know the bank's terms. Don't use a card that's going to rise to a higher interest rate later. Know what will happen if you're a day late paying the bill. Whatever the terms are, make sure you can abide by them or pass on using that credit card.

If you fell back on using credit last year, think back to those purchases. How long did it take you to pay off your credit cards? Are they paid off now?

"Now is the time to cut back, ramp back and bite the bullet," says Hagopian. "You'll thank yourself in January."


 

 

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