If your debt is rising, it may very well be time to stop using your credit cards.
We all need food, shelter and medical treatment – and you may have to resort to paying for these things on credit.
But if you can’t afford to pay cash for non-neccessities (such as snack foods, alcohol, cigarettes, clothes, brews at Starbucks), it might be best to do without.
Without further ado, here are 7 Tricks to Stop Using Your Credit Cards to Pay for Non-Essential Items (including the dreaded impulse buys) from credit.about.com:
1. Lock them up.
The “out of sight, out of mind” approach might be the thing to work for you. Put your credit cards somewhere that takes effort to get them –in a safe, file cabinet, the bottom of the laundry. Keeping your credit cards out of your immediate reach will help control your “need” to use them. Some people even freeze their credit cards in a bowl of water so the cards are unavailable.
2. Close them.
One call to your cardholder is all it takes to inactivate your credit card. You can easily quiet a nagging desire to use your card by thinking of the embarrassment you’ll feel when the clerk says your credit card has been denied. Closing credit cards can have a negative impact on your credit score, so make sure you’re not closing a card you should be leaving open. However, it’s better to close your credit card and suffer a temporary credit setback than to go deeper into debt trying to save your credit score.
NOTE: We’ll cover how to use (and not misuse) emergency credit cards in a later Help for the Financially Shy blog post.
3. Shred them.
Office shredders work just as well on that little piece of plastic as it does on your paper. If your credit card is in pieces, there’s no way you can swipe it. Don’t have a shredder? Scissors work just as well. Cut the card up into small pieces so the credit card number can’t be guessed by identity thieves.
4. Leave them at home.
Take your credit cards out of your wallet before you go shopping. If you get the urge to buy something, you’ll either have to use cash or come back for the item once you have your credit card.
5. Shock therapy.
Have you ever thought about the amount of money you spend in interest each year? Or the length of time it will take to pay off your credit cards? Sometimes the numbers will shock you into putting your credit cards away for good. A $1,000 balance at 14% will take you 4 1/2 years to pay off if you make $25 payments each month. You’ll have paid $347.55 in interest by the time you pay off the balance.
Credit card statements now include the amount of interest you’ve paid so far this year and the amount of interest you’ll pay if you’re just making the minimum payment. You can probably name several other things you could purchase with the combined interest from all your credit cards.
6. Reward yourself.
Positive reinforcement goes a long way in building a habit. We use it with our kids and when training our pets. Why not use it with ourselves? Each week that you don’t use your credit card, treat yourself to something you like but don’t ordinarily allow yourself to indulge. Keep your treats on the inexpensive/free end of the spectrum so you don’t upset your monthly budget.
7. Old-fashioned self control.
Being able to tell yourself “no” is a skill that goes beyond using credit cards. The same self-discipline that gets you to work on time each morning can also be used to stop using your credit cards. Think twice about swiping your credit card just like you’d think twice about pressing snooze just one more time.
Life was a lot simpler when what we honored was father and mother rather than all major credit cards.
— Robert Orben