Credit Cards YAY OR NAY-Thoughts on how to use them wisely


Disclaimer: Not a financial advisor – just sharing my thoughts

So, credit cards – yay or nay? Given all the trouble they seem to be causing my gut response is no. I know that many of the Financial Independence people like Dave Ramsey, Chris Hogan, etc. would tell you no credit card and to pay for everything in cash. The idea behind this way of thinking is that you won’t abuse what you do not have. Credit cards are a trap. Now, before you roll your eyes, remember that banks are capitalists. They are not your friend. Banks want to make as much money as possible. Think of it this way- Bank of America, Chase and Wells Fargo give tiny interest rates for their savings accounts. They provide interest rates between 0.03% and 0.75%. These rates are insultingly low. Compare these terrible rates to what they charge in interest for credit card purchases. Some rates are as high as 27% APR. They use your savings to make themselves rich. They will use you to get rich if you miss payments or only pay the minimum balance. Learn more about reading your statement here.

Do you hate credit cards?

If you hate credit cards you are not alone. My husband, who really should be writing this blog because he is better with money than me hates credit cards. He prefers to pay cash (debit card) for everything. I am more flexible, but I understand his concerns and agree that he is right, so we have found a middle ground. You can read more about the credit card free life from Rachel Cruze, two families interviewed by Nerd Wallet, a spender who is now watching her wallet and this Forbes piece.

When I was growing up in Zimbabwe, no one in my family had credit cards. My parents paid cash for everything, and they did not believe in loans -their mortgages were paid off decades before I was born.

I am not sure that I ever had a choice in the matter of opening a credit card account. The first week of college banks came to campus, we opened accounts we got credit cards, and that was it.

While I think a credit card free life is probably ideal for most people, I am not sure that it is practical. We recently bought a new car and our credit score mattered. I think the rules are even stricter if you are a black immigrant.

Let us be honest –

Most of us will not stop using credit cards so we might as well learn strategies to use them wisely.

  1. Do not open a million credit cards. You only need to show that you can pay your bills on time to build your credit history so no you don’t need a credit card from every store
  2. Closing cards will not hurt your credit score – even if it did- bad credit habits are more harmful than just closing off cards that are burdening you.
  3. Pay off your entire balance every month
  4. Pay off your balance on time – the due date is not a suggestion
    1. What if my salary pay date changes? Simply call your credit company and ask to change your due date. Changing your due date is  not impossible
  5. Do not go over your balance- seriously don’t
  6. Avoid cash advances. The interest rates and associated fees are not worth the headache
  7. Do not fall for the 0% APR offers. Very few people actually pay off the balances within the stipulated time frames.
  8. Do not play the revolving 0% APR game- nothing hurts your credit score quite like revolving debt. Also, that is just stressful.
  9. Do not spend on things that you can’t afford. If your debit card balance is lower than the price tag for whatever you want to get, then you can’t afford the purchase
  10. Do let the credit card work for you-
  1. Save for big purchases and pay for them with your credit card to take advantage of rewards. I pay for flights and furniture with a credit card and pay it up with the savings. We have our cash rewards set to auto-transfer into our fun fund.
  2. Do use a credit card while abroad because if it gets stolen, it is usually much easier to cancel
  3. Do get an understanding of rewards available to you – some cards give 2% for every purchase, 3% for groceries, etc
  4. Do use a credit card that provides insurance for big purchases. In graduate school, I treated myself to an iPad only to have it stolen. Big City problems. American Express protects most purchases for up to 90 days, so I was able to get a replacement
CREDIT CARDS SERIES: First-How to read a credit card statement

CREDIT CARDS SERIES: First-How to read a credit card statement


Pic from

Disclaimer: Not a financial advisor – just sharing my thoughts

So, credit cards- so much to think about.

This first post is for those who want to learn how to read their statement. The next post will be on the benefits and advantages of using credit cards.

Do you know how to read your credit card statement? There is no shame in not knowing how. It took me years to fully understand how credit cards work.

Figure 1: credit statement from

  1. Your account number -do not share this with anyone
  2. Statement Closing-The day the bank created the statement-this also determines how much you need to pay for the month
  3. Credit line- This is your spending limit. How much you can borrow
  4. Available Credit- how much loan access you have to.
  5. ACCOUNT SUMMARY – activities on your account.
  6. Previous Balance- What you owed in the last month
  7. Payments -what you paid towards the previous balance
  • Purchases and other charges – if you bought anything this month the amount will charge here
  1. Cash advances- Try and avoid these – this is when you get actual cash from the credit card. The interest is a lot more. You do
  2. Finance Charge- interest charged if you did not make payments toward previous balance or if you made a partial payment
  3. New Balance- if you did not carry over a balance from last month and did not make any other payments your balance should be = purchases and other charges
  4. New Balance – What you owe this month
  5. Minimum Payment- This is the least that you should pay each month to avoid penalties. You can pay more -highly advisable to pay more or all of your balance.
  6. Scheduled Payment Due Date – This is the final day for you to pay your bill (F). If you do not make a payment, you will get hit by LATE FEES + INTEREST + WHATEVER ELSE THEY WANT
  7. MINIMUM WARNING- Banks are required by law to inform you how long it will take you to pay off your credit card if you just pay the minimum and how much it will cost you.
  8. Rate Information: How your fees and interests are calculated- IMPORTANTmost cards can start with a promotional rate -say 0% for 12 months. If you make late payments, you can lose that. After the year is over the rate might increase to something like 24%. They also have different rates for purchases and cash advance with CA always having a high rate.
  9. Transactions- the list of purchases and payments you made. Double-check that you are only being charged for what you spent on.
  10. Payment coupon -repeats all the payment information
You should have a savings account- LIKE YESTERDAY!

You should have a savings account- LIKE YESTERDAY!

You need to start saving now !!!!!

Do you have a piggy bank

As I was researching for this post, I got into a rabbit hole reading about payday loans. I did not think these were legal in the United States. We have the system of chimbadzo in Zimbabwe (very high interest -short term loans- APR over 30%). It turns out in the U.S. similar loans are legal, and they are a money pit. For example, if you are in a bind and borrow $100, they will want between $100 and $130 in a week the interest will double each week you are unable to pay. One guy borrowed $2400 in a few months he owed $4000. It is crazy!

don’t get scammed

What struck is me is that we often assume that people needing these loans are the working poor, low financial literacy, irresponsible, etc. but that is not necessarily true. I read a lot of horror stories on reddit. Reddit is like the craigslist of knowledge for savvy millennials. It was, after all, founded by Serena William’s husband. If educated people with somewhat stable jobs are struggling financially to the extent of needing these predatory loans, it means the working class, the poor and honestly all of us are at risk of ending up in these money pits.

Money is an uncomfortable subject, and yet it is so important. I finally submitted the revisions to my article on money in politics – even politicians do not want to talk about how much they are spending to get elected. It is an uncomfortable subject- I get it. Dear friend, let us find ways to plan so that we can be prepared for the various challenges ahead.

Saving is a lifestyle habit that should start very early on. However, it is never too late to learn new tricks. You’ve got this!

I am going to discuss some strategies that I have learned or read about to get me on the path to saving.

Whatever stage you are in life, you need a healthy savings account. I know the thought of saving can be scary. Everyone, IS  talking about a 6-month emergency saving when you are just trying to have $150 saved. SCARY! Baby steps!

Stage 0: No savings account

  1. Start very small. Challenge yourself to set aside just $20 a month for three months then double that to $40. As an undergrad, I saved $50-$100 from my small paycheck every month. By the time graduation came, I had enough saved to invite family to my graduation and cover three months of rent ($500/month) in DC for my unpaid internship.
  2. Open a high yield savings account
    1. These accounts will give you at least 2% interest. In South Africa, these accounts would give you about 7% interest but no point getting jealous hahaha. If you are in SA, please tell me you have taken advantage of these generous rates. 2-3% is quite common in most developed countries. Banks are stingy- it irks me that they will charge you 14% for a loan and give 0% for your savings.
    2. Which ones- I hate to endorse any products, but I can say look for accounts that do not require a minimum balance even a $100 minimum balance. No Fees! Banks are already making money from your money – they do not need to charge you a fee for this. I am looking at you Bank of America. I use American Express but I am pretty sure there are better options online these days.
  3. Direct deposit: The best way to save is to do it when you still have money
    1. You can ask HR to split your paycheck into multiple payments to your checking and savings. You can tell them how much to put in each account. Nearly every HR department will do this.
    2. Solo Set up auto savings from your checking to savings – as I mentioned before I used to transfer $27 each week from my checking to savings. This is my fun money now. It also saved me this month because I forgot that faculty housing you pay rent at the end of the month not in advance like most rental situations. I had a rude awakening- thanks to this fun fund we did not have to deep into a savings account.
  4. Essential steps towards financial health that I think about
    1. Create a budget and stick to it
    2. Write down your financial goals -even lofty ones
    3. Save at least $1,000 for an emergency fund
    4. Pay off debt (ALL DEBT-) except your mortgage –
    5. Invest



Should  I RENT OR BUY?????

Should I RENT OR BUY?????


Let me start by saying the cheesiest thing- the choice comes down to what do you need and what can you afford?

My husband and I get asked a lot if we have bought a house and the answer- which also applies to many frequented questions is NO. Although we have been married five years and we have been officially out of school for a while, we have not yet bought a home. Several factors influence our decision-making process. Hopefully, this post will help you if you are debating similar issues.

One of the things people say a lot is that renting is wasting money. It is not – you get a place to live in. You can waste money in either situation; if you rent or buy a home that is way beyond your means or bigger than you need (McMansion ALERT). Having a place to stay that is within your budget and financial goals is not wasting money-it is a blessing.

Some questions to ponder before you make a decision

  1. How much can I afford to pay for my living situation? If you can only afford to spend $500 a month for the roof over your head, then you may not be ready to purchase a home.
  2. Do I have consumer and or student debt? If you have a lot of debt, you may not want to buy a house and add a mortgage to your debt bill –
  3. Do I have a solid emergency fund? The experts suggest 4-6 month’s worth of living expenses saved in an easy to access high yield savings account before making major investments. Fellow millennials and baby cousins in Generation Z- please trust me when I say emergencies happen. You need an emergency FUND.
  4. If I were to buy a home, could I afford a decent down payment to avoid paying PMI and other protections? You can probably take advantage of many first-time buyer deals and put just 5% down, but some financial experts say it is always better to have at least 10-20% down payment saved. If you don’t use it all for the downpayment you may need it for closing costs and moving expenses.
  5. Do I have money set aside for home ownership related expenses that can occur as soon as I move in? These can include flooding basement, failing AC or heating system, leaking roof, etc. Things happen. Unless you are getting a brand new home chances are that it will have some issues.
  6. Could I comfortably pay my mortgage if I lost my job? This is important.
  7. Do I plan to live in this home for at least five years? If you are still moving jobs buying a home may be risky – if you are unable to find a renter, you may find yourself paying a mortgage for an empty house. If you find a terrible renter, you may still pay your mortgage plus rent at your new place.
  8. The cost of buying a home is more than the cost of a mortgage and down payment. You will need to pay taxes, homeowners insurance, fix things, mow your lawn, keep up with neighbors and their gardens – heating a home is also kinda expensive.
  9. Owning a home is also fantastic – you can paint the house fun colors, and you do not need permission to drill the walls.
  10. A home purchase can be a worthwhile long-term investment, especially if it is in an area where home values appreciate.

At the end of the day, do not feel pressured to rent or own a house. Your bank account will tell you what you can afford. The heart might lead you astray.


P.S. I am not a certified financial advisor this is just my fun blog



Do your friends make more money than you?

Do your friends make more money than you?

The answer is probably yes. Those of us in our early 30s or -whatever age you are – are starting to see our lives take different paths from our friends. For a while, we were all poor college OR grad students. Now that school is behind us (is it ever) we are going on to career paths that will present a shift in our income. Our finance and maybe engineer friends likely started at six figures while those of us in social sciences and humanities might be making a just little over what we made in graduate school. If you are honest though you will see that we are pursuing our passion, our skill and the jobs that we are uniquely designed to do well at.

What does it mean that our friends are making more money than we do? It means whatever you want it to mean. A month or so ago, some friends and I were discussing why it is so easy to drool over people’s picture-perfect vacations or homes. It is only natural to feel a little bit of jealousy when we think others are far ahead of us and nothing is more likely to make us question our worth than money or the ideas of what money can buy.

Having friends who are richer than you can be stressful. You might feel pressured to spend to their level. Just don’t. This applies to every stage of life. In college, if you can’t afford to eat out at the “cheap” taco place, be honest and tell your friends, you can’t afford it. I liked hanging with my friends but could not always afford meals etc. so I joined people at house parties and or hosted potlucks at our apartment a lot. In graduate school, my bestie and I loved hanging out with other girlfriends after church – Sunday lunch. We really could not to spend $20, so we always split our meals. Have you seen the portions in the South? We never missed out on Sunday lunch, and we often got to try out new fun places. At first, our friends looked at us with confusion re meal-sharing but after a while they accepted it.

We can’t control the things people ask of us – but we can control how we respond to those asks. If you want to join your friends for dinner but can’t afford to split a huge check, let them know. Use your words and say I will need to order separately. Telling the waiter in advance will not only make their job easier, but you won’t stress.

Be honest with yourself. Are you willing to do whatever job your rich friend is doing to earn the same? Is it possible to increase your income, doing something that you love? A friend and I talk openly about money. I know that she will be rich – this makes me happy because she gives great gifts hahaha, but I also know she works hard in a tough industry. I work hard but in a different environment that brings me immense joy and loads of flexibility. My job allows me to do an hour of yoga EVERYDAY if I want.

Try not to loan each other money \ (read more here)– it gets tricky. I hate paying off my credit card because I feel like I am wasting money-paying back loans can also feel this way. If you do borrow money -pay back on time. You should not be asked. If you loan money to friends be firm in asking for it back-set boundaries and don’t be passive aggressive just ask for the money.

If your friendship is struggling because of who makes more money that friendship probably isn’t worth it. Friendship should be enjoyable and supportive. If you are a rich friend and can afford to share your gifts, do so from a place of humility, love, and generosity. If you’re not money rich share love in time and other nonmonetary ways.

Shout out to my college friends who always made me feel like a part of the group even when I was just a poor kid from Zim.






There are a lot of friends and family money-related discussions going on –they all matter. I wanted to point another angle we don’t often think about-FRIEND DISCOUNTS.

A lot of us millennials are dabbling in entrepreneurship to supplement our income or because we prefer to create employment. Entrepreneurship and or owning a business sounds sexy, but the reality is not that cool- there is a lot of work and debt involved in building an enterprise. Many small business owners operate in the red for the first few years of owning a business.

I am the queen of discounts and coupons. I pride myself in getting good deals. I  will happily spend hours on the phone with our service providers because research has shown that we can cut our utility bills by about 20% if we are committed. My husband is not, and he dreads going shopping with me, haha but I know he loves that whenever we go to the apple store, I can save him at least 10%. This disclaimer is important because I do not want you to feel judged for seeking out ways to save money. Use retailmenotto get discounts to bath and body – the company can afford your discount.


However, I want to emphasize that seeking savings on the hard work of our friends or family is not cool. My parents were small business owners and worked informally, so I know how important it is for entrepreneurs to maximize their income. Asking our friends for a discount might signal that we do not respect their hustle, or we do not care about their work. If you can pay full price for a friend’s yoga class, please do it because contrary to popular belief yoga teachers, photographers and website builders do not make a lot of money. When your friend’s business takes off, and they become a multimillion-dollar conglomerate, they will not forget the support that you gave them.

Instead of asking for a discount help your friend or family member, you can support their work by advertising their business and encouraging your circle of friends to use their services. I love seeing the way payments for services offered by friends can empower them. If I can afford it, I always pay full price or a little extra for my friend’s services.


Both of my businesses can now  AFFORD to give friend discounts because our friends and family supported us 100% when we were still starting up.


Please use code: welcome10 for your next order from if you are in Harare and want to buy a special treat from Trendy inbox our facebook page or WhatsApp +263772951139 for a discount.