A case for the debit card

MANILA, Philippines – Millennials are a misunderstood bunch.

They're painted as a group of overgrown children with questionable work ethic and a penchant for expensive craft beer. But their priorities aren’t that much different from the generations before them. Success, happiness, and stability are still on their list of things to achieve; they just define and pursue these concepts differently.

Take financial literacy for instance. At first look, it may seem like millennials don’t know much about it at all. Unlike before, you won’t see these 20-30 year olds lining up to get their bank books updated, but that doesn’t mean they’re not keeping track. Being digital natives, it’s understandable why most of today’s young professionals are more comfortable running errands through their computer or phone screens.

This “modern” saving outlook has affected how the younger generation spends, and more specifically, what they spend with. For example, debit cards are preferred over credit cards because they provide the convenience of a card without the danger of incurring debt.

Millennials don’t handle their money the same way as their parents did, and that could be a good thing. If you’re working on improving your finances and in need a little more control, use modern financial tools, such as your debit card, to your advantage.

A safer way to carry cash

It sure is nerve-racking to walk around with the P30,000 you’ve just withdrawn inside your wallet, but situations that call for larger sums are unavoidable. Skip the trip to the ATM and use your debit card instead. This way, your money is safe inside your account until the exact moment you make a transaction.

Create a secure PIN code to keep your account even more protected. Don’t make it too obvious; skip your birthday, anniversary, or telephone number. Those who own multiple cards will also benefit from giving each account a different PIN. It may take some time to memorize them all, but this technique will keep your money safe.

Now you're ready to start using your debit card.

Say you’ve filled your basket and are now by the counter, what do you do? You might say: “I give the items, wait for the total price, present my card, enter my pin, and leave all smiles,” but you missed two very crucial steps. Before using your card, check your balance. You can do this through the terminal, just ask the cashier and hide the screen with your hand. Doing so will let you know exactly how much is in your account. The cashier will also probably show you the amount you need to pay for, so double-check that as well.

A better way to spend, save

The main advantage of a debit card is that you only spend what you have. There’s nothing worse than buying something expensive and finding out that you can’t pay for it come the next month. But there are other ways you can use your debit card to gain even more control of your bank account.

Before anything else, always set a budget for yourself. A good practice is to automatically withdraw your savings for the month and move it to a different bank account. Your account with the debit card can then be your “liquid budget” – something you can use and (if need be) drain, because you’re assured that you’ve saved up enough. Being so easy to use, debit cards can make you fall into the trap of overspending, so treating savings as an expense and setting a budget you’ll stick to is very important.

To have a better idea about the things you usually spend on, you can monitor your expenses by regularly reviewing your transactions online. This will show your outgoing and incoming cash flow and let you in on where most of your money is going. Let's say you see that you've been spending too much on dinners out; come next month, you can decide to cut down on food trips and use the money for gas or other things that need a little more attention. From there, you'll be able to create a budget that addresses all your needs.

This is not to stop you from going on a shopping spree, have at it! (as long as you stick to your budget.) But remember to keep those receipts and transaction slips you’ll be getting. That doesn't mean just letting them crumple in your wallet; file and keep them somewhere in your desk, drawer, or closet. You can download Receiptmate, an app that lets you scan and store receipts in your phone.

Set aside time every week or every month to check the transactions made on your account. You can simply login and do this online. The idea here is to balance all your purchases during the week. If something doesn’t look right, contact your bank right away. Doing this regularly will allow you to spot errors early on and save you from the hassle of going through a pile of receipts every month.

Saving and making the most out of your money has never been easier. But you’ll only be able to reap these benefits if you say goodbye to old practices and take advantage of new tools and features that are now available. – Rappler.com

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