“We live in a society in which the undisciplined endlessly pursue the unnecessary,” says Emily Barnes, author of Survival for Busy Women. “Getting something on easy credit is not much of a challenge.”
Addiction to plastic not only causes tension in marriage, but it creates stress and upheaval in our personal lives. We work long hours, only to see our earnings eaten up in credit card payments and excessive interest.
We say, “I’ll never charge again.” Then a pre-approved letter comes in the mail and all we have to do is sign our name. “This is the last one,” we promise ourselves. “It’s low interest, and I’ll use it only to pay off a higher-interest card. Then I’ll cut it up.” But soon we see something we “just can’t live without,” and out comes the card.
We can give ourselves all kinds of reasons for our plastic spending. But the truth is, we’re addicted to buying the same as a person is addicted to other harmful habits.
If this is your problem, there is good news for you! By using the following seven steps, you can find yourself on the way to freeing yourself of this habit.
- Cut up all cards but one to be used only in an emergency. Use of this card should be restricted to such things as unexpected house or car repairs or medical bills, not the annual department store sale.
2. Leave your card at home when you go shopping. This helps you avoid impulse buying. It also makes it easier to follow the next principle:
- Give yourself at least a 24-hour waiting period before making a large purchase. In doing this, many times you’ll find that you really don’t need that item after all or your desire for it has disappeared.
- Pay cash for everything. It’s easy to hand over a credit card since you can’t see the total adding up on your monthly statement. But when you see $10 and $20 bills leaving your wallet, it hurts.
- Save unexpected income for unexpected purchases. It’s amazing how much you can save if you drop all your change into a jar at the end of each day, or keep all your coupon money separate. Then when your child is invited to a birthday party or you see an especially good sale, you can reach for your jar instead of your card.
- If you do have to charge, keep a record. One woman I heard of kept a credit card ledger similar to a checking account ledger. She wrote down her purchases, but instead of subtracting as she would a check, she added each purchase in the ledger, in that way keeping an up-to-date balance of her charge card. This way, there were no surprises at the end of the month.
- Don’t depend on possessions to bring you happiness. Make a list of the things you enjoy that don’t cost money: a compliment from your husband or child, finishing a job you’ve been putting off, a letter or email from a friend. Concentrate on these pleasures and you’ll soon realize how little you really need that credit card to bring you contentment.
It has been said that it takes 21 days to break a habit. If the task of changing your spending habits seems too overwhelming for you, then just select one of these suggestions and work on it, then go on to the next one. Remember, you didn’t develop this addiction overnight so don’t expect to solve the problem overnight.
What methods have you used to curtail the charging habit?
Excellent suggestions for getting out of the credit card debt cycle, Donna. I got in trouble with credit card debt as a young adult. I took some of those exact same steps to get myself paid up.
Now I do things a little differently–I buy most everything with a credit card, but I subtract everything from my checking account balance in my check book. When my balance approaches zero, I stop purchasing until I make another deposit. When the credit card bill comes, I verify every charge in my check book, then pay the bill in full WITHOUT subtracting the amount (since I already subtracted each purchase as it happened, the amount is available to pay the bill).
Andrea, when I had my car repairs a couple of weeks ago (over $800) I paid for it with my Southwest Card to get the miles, then paid it off right away.
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These are such good suggestions, Donna. Paying with credit card is a little too easy these days. I know this post will be helpful to lots of folks.
I mostly pay cash for things these days. I’m about to relocate and then refurnish about half of the apartment (some of my stuff is 20 years old and falling apart), so I’m sure there will be some charges in the future, but when the security from the current place comes back to me, boom, pay it right off. I live pretty simply. More stuff is just more stuff to clean, maintain, replace, or repair! 🙂