Store Sales -- And How It Can Hurt Your Credit

03/24/2014 03:30 pm ET | Updated May 24, 2014

The other day I went into a store to look for an outfit to wear to a bridal shower party. I wanted something stylish but also affordable. In one store, I found a little dress I really liked... unfortunately the salesperson who tried to sell it to me made a glaring error in her sales pitch.

Chances are, you've heard a similar pitch (regardless of what you buy or when) and most people don't realize that it can actually hurt your credit.

The sales pitch goes something like this: "Normally this dress is $250 but we're having a spring special so you can get it for $199. You save over $50!"

Seems pretty innocent, doesn't it? Well here's the problem with that:

We see one sign after another telling us that something is on sale and enticing us to buy. With so many specials and sales and deals, it is extremely tempting to buy things. "After all," we think to ourselves, "we need to buy them anyway so why not spend less?"

If you pay cash or debit then that is a great decision, because paying cash keeps you in budget and ensures that you don't max out your credit cards. And if you pay with credit cards and pay those cards off right away, as soon as you get the bill in April, then you still saved lots of money.

Guess what: As soon as you start paying interest on your credit cards, you almost immediately erase any savings you earned in the store! If you haven't paid off your credit cards after a couple of months, you'll have spent considerably more on the product than you would have been willing to pay for the product in the store.

Just imagine if the salesperson told you what was really going to happen: "Normally this dress is $250 but we're having a spring special so you can get it for $350." Would you buy the dress? Of course not! No one would intentionally do that. And yet, that's what millions of people do every year during the year -- they willingly spend more than the ticket price by buying something at regular or discounted prices and then failing to pay off their credit card on time and in full.

There's nothing wrong with shopping and looking for a great sale. However, when those purchased items come with an invisible, higher price tag, that's when you need to rethink your budget to help maintain good credit.

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