Are you using credit cards to boost your self-esteem?

A recent article on reveals that many young adults get an intense adrenaline rush when using credit to finance the lifestyle of their dreams.

Access to credit makes them feel they have prepared to meet the challenges of the future, the article suggests. The article is derived from the recent study performed by Ohio State University: Youth debt, mastery, and self-esteem: Class stratified effects of indebtedness on self-concept.

The study concluded that when young adults who are from poor and middle class backgrounds used student loans and credit cards to finance their lifestyles, "they felt a temporary but powerful boost in self-esteem and in feelings of mastery over their environment."

The results of this study aren’t surprising. Young adults have the second highest bankruptcy rate in nation and the average indebted young adult spends almost 25 cents of a dollar on debt payments, according to a study by Demos.

While having and using credit is useful, measuring your self-worth by your credit limit can lead to a burden of financial turmoil.

Below are five ways to use credit responsibly and establish healthy financial habits to insure financial wellness later in life. Besides, one of the best self-esteem boosters is providing for your financial future and building a solid nest egg.

  1. Only purchase items on a credit card you can afford to pay back within three months. For larger purchases, consider saving for it or commit to a strategic payment plan if using credit is necessary.
  2. Don’t exceed your credit limit. Most financial experts, such as Money Management International, recommend not using more than 30 percent of your credit limit. Anything over that can lead to a mountain of credit card debt.
  3. Pay more than the minimum amount due. I once read that to pay off a balance in a reasonable time frame and avoid excessive interest is to multiple the minimum payment due by three and pay that amount.
  4. Don’t miss a payment. Do whatever you can to remain current on bill payments. Consider using calendars, agendas, and to-do lists to remember credit card due dates. Missing a payment can lead to late charges and other fees.
  5. Know and understand the interest rates on each credit card. Make sure you are aware of interest rates, over limit fees, rewards and points, etc. Understanding you terms better you will help you make better financial choices.

If you are dealing with using credit card to boost self-esteem, you might also be interested in reading From spendthrift to saver to learn the warning signs and get solutions to control shopping temptations.


Renee McGruder is a former communications coordinator and grant writer at MMI.

  • Better Business Bureau A+ rating Better Business Bureau
    MMI is proud to have achieved an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB), a nonprofit organization focused on promoting and improving marketplace trust. The BBB investigates charges of fraud against both consumers and businesses, sets standards for truthfulness in advertising, and evaluates the trustworthiness of businesses and charities, providing a score from A+ (highest) to F (lowest).
  • Financial Counseling Association of America Financial Counseling Association of America
    MMI is a proud member of the Financial Counseling Association of America (FCAA), a national association representing financial counseling companies that provide consumer credit counseling, housing counseling, student loan counseling, bankruptcy counseling, debt management, and various financial education services.
  • Trustpilot Trustpilot
    MMI is rated as “Excellent” (4.9/5) by reviewers on Trustpilot, a global, online consumer review platform dedicated to openness and transparency. Since 2007, Trustpilot has received over 116 million customer reviews for nearly 500,000 different websites and businesses. See what others are saying about the work we do.
  • Department of Housing and Urban Development - Equal Housing Opportunity Department of Housing and Urban Development
    MMI is certified by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to provide consumer housing counseling. The mission of HUD is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD provides support services directly and through approved, local agencies like MMI.
  • Council on Accreditation Council On Accreditation
    MMI is proudly accredited by the Council on Accreditation (COA), an international, independent, nonprofit, human service accrediting organization. COA’s thorough, peer-reviewed accreditation process is designed to ensure that organizations like MMI are providing the highest standard of service and support for clients and employees alike.
  • National Foundation for Credit Counseling National Foundation for Credit Counseling
    MMI is a longstanding member of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling® (NFCC®), the nation’s largest nonprofit financial counseling organization. Founded in 1951, the NFCC’s mission is to promote financially responsible behavior and help member organizations like MMI deliver the highest-quality financial education and counseling services.