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118118 Money Team  •  July 30, 2023


As a long-standing finance writer and a credit card veteran, I invite you to step into my world. My mission is to guide the 7 million near-prime families in Britain through the complicated labyrinth of personal finance, using lessons learned on my own journey.

1. Stepping into the Ring: My Introduction to Credit Cards

My journey began quite humbly, in the midst of a bustling Tesco, fresh out of university and embarking on the daunting world of adulting. Little did I know, this introduction to credit cards was to set me on a path of financial resilience, using a technique more commonly associated with athletes: deliberate practice.

2. The Knockout Punch: Financial Difficulty Strikes

The real challenge came when I found myself navigating the tumultuous waters of unexpected redundancy, a harsh blow that threatened to upend my family's financial stability. As the possibility of missed credit card payments loomed ominously, I realised it was time to formulate a game plan.

3. The Training Regime: Formulating a Plan

Inspired by the sportspeople and using the principles of “deliberate practice”, we began to outline a proactive strategy for managing our credit card payments. This step was crucial; akin to an athlete training strategically for a marathon, we were preparing ourselves for the financial long haul.

4. Building Stamina: Communicating Early and Effectively

Just as an athlete starts training long before the actual game, we knew we had to communicate our plight early on. We initiated a dialogue with our lender. This conversation wasn't a panicked cry for help, but a strategic discussion about our financial plan, much like a coach and athlete strategising for the upcoming season.

5. Creating the Gameplan: Exploring Available Options

Our proactive approach opened up a treasure trove of financial relief options including exploring forbearance, refinancing, and adjusted repayment plans. These discussions helped develop our financial playbook tailored to weather the economic storm.

6. Following the Gameplan: Commitment to the Plan

With a strategy in place, the real test of our commitment began. Much like an athlete who repeatedly practices a certain move to perfect it, we adhered to our repayment plan, even when it felt tough. A plan is only as good as the commitment to execute it. For us, every payment made in line with our plan was a victory, akin to an athlete mastering a difficult move after days of deliberate practice. This dedicated repetition, though challenging, gradually steered us towards financial stability.

Girl suspended on ribbon in yoga sitting position with hands on knees

7. The Coach’s Whistle: Seeking Expert Guidance

Every accomplished athlete has a seasoned coach by their side, offering advice and encouragement. Similarly, we sought guidance from a financial advisor who provided expert insights and helped refine our game plan.

8. Final Score: Financial Stability Through Deliberate Practice

Looking back, the most significant lesson was learning how deliberate practice, often seen as exclusive to the sporting world, was instrumental in achieving financial resilience. Mastering credit card planning and maintaining open communication were important to our financial comeback, but a daily commitment to the goal was necessary for long-term success.

close up of lower calves and toes of cream colored ballet shoes

Conclusion: Credit Card Wisdom through Deliberate Practice

Today, I view my credit card not just as a payment tool but as a symbol of a journey from financial chaos to mastery. It's a journey defined by a sound financial plan, deliberate practice, and open communication.

Remember, in finance, as in sport, the path to mastery is paved with perseverance and deliberate practice. Let’s get Serious.