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The Email Mistake That Can Hurt Your Credit

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Every time I look at my inbox, I almost always have about half a dozen new emails from retailers that want me to buy their stuff. And these retailers often use amazingly compelling subject lines so that I feel like I have to click and see what unbeatable deal I’m missing.

Now, as we head into the holiday shopping season, this craziness is likely to get bumped up a few notches. The problem is that if I’m charging up my credit card on needless merchandise every time I open up my inbox, I’m headed for financial ruin … and quickly! Impulse buying can cause you to overcharge your credit cards and potentially damage your credit score in the form of missed payments or high balances on your credit report. (You can see how your credit card balances are affecting your credit scores for free on Credit.com.)

If you’re prone to shopping through emails, there are some steps you can take to stop the madness. Here’s what I’ve done and what you can do, too, to save your credit from being ruined by your inbox.

1. Instead of ‘Buy Now,’ Click ‘Unsubscribe’

The best way to stop buying through every email is to make it your personal policy to click on the “Unsubscribe” link rather than the link that takes you to view the super-secret, special sale. Changing this behavior is not easy, especially if you love to buy things at a discount, but it may be in your best interest to miss out on the deal of the century, Your financial and credit health are generally more important. You can keep your financial goals and plans in mind in order to increase your odds of saying “no” to impulse buying.

2. Let Your Budget Be Your Guide

Having a written budget and financial plan for yourself and your family will help you avoid that impulse to browse and buy. Having a budget doesn’t mean you avoid spending money completely; it means that you decide ahead of time when and how much to spend (as opposed to buying when an emails tell you to). To avoid going beyond your budget, you can designate someone as your accountability partner. Whether it’s your spouse, partner, friend or family member, you can call on this person to encourage you to stay on track.

3. Get an Email Address Just for Promos

A friend of mine gave me this suggestion that’s helped her. She got an alternate, free email address to only give out when signing up for a promotion or to a retailer that she knows will only be sending her marketing emails. She checks the email now and then, but, otherwise, she’s able to avoid having her main inbox flooded with temptations to buy, buy, buy.

It can also be helpful to remember that any sales you are notified of are likely not exclusive. Also, when you are looking to buy something specific (that’s in your budget), you can search for the item with “coupon” after its name and see what kind of deals are online. Your good credit score and your wallet may thank you.

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