Credit Cards are Cool.

I just can’t help it, I love those little boogers! They’re convenient, easy to keep track of, and extremely valuable in an emergency. They’re not great for everyone, of course, but for me they work. I’m comfortable managing my money, I pay off the balances each month, AND I stick to a nifty little credit card budget.

Maybe that’s what all the haters need? A budget for their credit card. I mean, all the same principles apply as the “standard” one: know how much you’re putting on it, figure out which categories to use it for, follow your allotted amounts, and reward yourself for sticking to it.

As with all mental budgets people go by, this one too is without exception – you think you know what amount is good, but you don’t have the facts to back it up. For me, i thought $500 was my “budget”. Why though? I never actually sat down and came up with an amount that met my needs, nor did my bills ever reflect this $500 arbitrary amount. I guess people just like the wishful thinking part of it :)

The amount that actually worksfor me is $800/month. This may sound high to some, but i use it to pay anything and everything i can. My USAA Platinum Card, like many others out there, comes with a cash back program. So every time i swipe that bad boy, i’m saving a certain %* each month (not a huge amount, but it’s still FREE money!). Here’s what i charge each month:

credit card budget Beer: yummy!
Food: eating out, snacks
Pet stuff: food, toys
gifts: birthday presents, charities
Random: unexpected items, blogs :), fees
Shopping: clothes, house decorations, toys 4 me
Transportation: gas, train tickets, metro (does not include auto loan & insurance)

So there you have it, my nifty credit card budget. Now if you can track this in detail every month (ie. take out all the transactions, assign them into the categories, and then see if you’re + or -) more power to you. I wish i could myself, but i just don’t have the patience for it anymore … haha … Now i just look to make sure it’s around $800 or less, and if so, i pat myself on the back.

We’re going on my 2nd month using the budget now and i’m totally happy, especially since i’ve given up on the “shopping” section since Lent. It def. makes it harder to go over budget now :)

Last month my total bill was $623.47!!!

I’d normally reward myself, but considering the previous bill was at $1,478.55 (OUCH), i’m still recooperating and trying to get back on track. I challenge you to give it a shot though, it can’t hurt…although i can’t promise it won’t sting a little ;)

*Cash rewards per month: If i spend up to $2,000 = .35%, If i spend up to $4,000
= .75%,If i spend up to $11,000 = 1%, If i spend up to $15,000 = 1.25%

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  1. sarah oneill April 5, 2010 at 6:38 PM

    Only $15 a month on beer? What are you drinking PBR?

  2. J. Money April 5, 2010 at 8:18 PM

    Ooooh I wish! Who knows really, this post was written back in ’08 ;) Now we spend double that every week! haha…

  3. Mac Hildebrand July 21, 2012 at 3:13 PM

    Hey J, I just ran across this golden oldie from your archives and like that you recognize the strengths that credit cards have for keeping track of spending. It’s easy to assign things into categories when you have them in a list at the end of the month. Also, no expense escapes you. I also tended to be generous with my assumptions about my own spending until I actually paid closer attention to the numbers every month and couldn’t avoid what I was actually spending!

  4. J. Money July 24, 2012 at 3:43 PM

    You know it! This was one of my first ever blog posts for sure, haha… just check out all those comments around here! ;)

  5. Jules July 3, 2016 at 12:48 PM

    I just stumbled across this oldie as I lament my own credit card bill for last month and this month (and it’s only the beginning of July!). Summer food is killing us with our boys eating on what seems like a near constant basis. Have you done a ‘re-do’ of this lately with your current spending? If not, I’d love to see one!

    1. J. Money July 5, 2016 at 6:37 AM

      Oh wow, haven’t looked at this in years! I haven’t done a recent one, no, but I’ll put it on the list of ideas once things settle down here… (in process of moving). It looks way different these days with kids and self-employment that’s for sure, haha…. Was so much simpler back then!


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