LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - Many people may want that new car, new cellphone, or something else they may not be able to afford.
Just putting it on a credit card may garner that item, but it could put you in a financial hole.
Some might say just cancel your credit card, get rid of the temptation. According to a recent survey by Bankrate, 6 out of every 10 Americans have cancelled a credit card without understanding the harm it can do to your credit.
Phil Earhart, Market President at Iberia Bank Southwest Louisiana, says people need to have credit, but they also need to learn how to use it to better themselves.
“They need to have credit that they can manage, that’s the main thing,” Earhart said. “So many people get a gas credit card and don’t pay it off on a monthly basis, well everybody needs gasoline and that’s just going to build and build and build.”
Tami Chrisope with the United Way of Southwest Louisiana says this kind of mistake leads to a snowball effect off gaining debt and lowering your credit.
"Once you miss one payment then you've got a penalty and it just goes on and on," Chrisope said. "Most Americans today don't have savings as a backup."
Chrisope says a great way to prevent falling behind is simply starting a savings account. Even if that means putting a little bit away at a time, every little bit counts.
Earhart says visiting financial advisers will help put you on a path to improving your credit.
"Go to a credit counselor, there are ones at McNeese State University's S.E.E.D. Center where you can talk about what you can do for your credit," Earhart said.
But he says the number one thing you can do to help yourself keep a good credit score is hold yourself accountable.
“Check your credit,” Earhart said. “Can’t say it enough. Check your credit!”
NerdWallet has these tips to help you improve your credit score.