Credit cards are convenient ““ there is no denying that. With a credit card in your wallet, you have some semblance of security, knowing you have funds in the event of an emergency or when you do not have cash on hand. There is a safety in knowing your credit card company will back you up if your wallet is stolen, unlike with cash or your checkbook. All that convenience in today’s busy world is satisfying; however, it can also be addictive. Falling into a pattern of irresponsible credit card use is a sure-fire way to lead yourself into a life of debt that can last for years. Even worse is some people will live in denial of their addiction until it is too late to turn back.
The only way to avoid this situation is to stop. Stop using your plastic like cash. Stop treating your credit cards like free money. If you are not taking your responsibilities as a credit card holder, you have no business using a credit card. Credit cards do not swipe themselves. It is the owner who does that and if you find that you are in a situation where you can not stop swiping your plastic, it’s time to take action. Here are some starting points for those addicted to spending on credit in order to reduce the temptation and regain control of your spending habits and your money management skills.
STOP Taking Them With You
If you go to the mall with the credit card in your wallet, you are likely to use it. Start leaving your credit cards at home. Make sure they are in a safe but somewhat inconvenient place. Somewhere you can’t access impulsively as you run out the door. The farther away from a cash register your plastic is, the better off your money will be. If you find something you “must have”, you will be forced to wait. The time it takes to return at a later date may be all of the time you need to change your mind about your wants versus your needs.
STOP Applying for New Cards
Some people think it is perfectly acceptable to get a brand new credit card once the old one is maxed out. This is the epitome of irresponsible credit card use. No matter how “amazing” the new offers are that arrive in your mailbox, there is no offer that is going to rescue you from big-time debt. One card is all you need for emergencies. If you take the time to assess your current card balances and find it would serve you well to transfer the balances to one lower-interest card, then do your homework to find the right card for your situation. Do not accept every approval offer that comes your way.
STOP The Lines of Credit
As in the above “one card is all you need” theory, you can contact the companies of the cards you have open with a zero balance and close out the accounts. Never close accounts that still have a balance. If you choose to transfer all balances to one single card, make sure that closing out several accounts at the same time will not damage your credit score.
STOP Beating Yourself Up
Berating yourself for getting in over your head will do no one any good. The most you can ask of yourself is to get back on track and walk away with a lesson learned. Make a commitment to get out of debt and control all of your spending, not just spending on credit. Sure it will take some heaping amounts of self-control but the end result will be fulfilling. Set a budget and financial goals for yourself and make sure you reward yourself as you reach each milestone, so as not to feel like it is all sacrifice and no fun.