The credit card overspending cycle

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Q. I get paid irregularly so I end up using credit cards that I can’t pay in full each month, and I have to wait for paychecks to catch up. How can I get out of this cycle?
— Struggling

A. It can be challenging to set a budget when you receive irregular paychecks, but it’s not at all impossible.

Because you may not always be sure about when your paychecks will come, it sounds like you should build a larger emergency fund than someone with regular income. This will help you cover costs while you’re waiting for your payments to arrive.

Just as important? You need to take a very close look at your spending.

And if you don’t have the cash to pay for something, don’t turn to plastic.

Jerry Lynch, a certified financial planner with JFL Total Wealth Management in Boonton, says you shouldn’t carry credit cards when you are out of the home.

“If you really need to buy something you need to go home, get your card, then go back,” Lynch said. “This stops impulse spending which can kill a budget.”

Lynch recommends you go back and look at all your credit card receipts and see what you really need and what you probably did not need. You’ll probably find a lot of spending that could have been avoided, he said.

“If you do not have the cash, the general rule should be don’t buy it,” he said.

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This post was first published in June 2016.

NJMoneyHelp.com presents certain general financial planning principles and advice, but should never be viewed as a substitute for obtaining advice from a personal professional advisor who understands your unique individual circumstances.