Everyone knows how easy it can be to get into credit card debt. This article offers a simple to follow and effective plan for getting out of debt and taking control of your credit cards.
Articles abound on how to manage your credit cards, pay down your balances, and get out of debt. But most of these articles all say the same thing. Resist the temptation. Freeze your credit card in a block of ice, experts say. Well, that might be one solution, but where is the practical advice? What is temptation and how do we avoid it? This article will give five steps toward resisting the temptation to use your credit card and helping you to get out of debt along the way. Follow these guidelines and you will be debt free one day!
Before we get to the steps, first you have to know what temptation really is. So, let’s take a minute to define it. Temptation is any time you want to use your credit card for items you do not have the money to pay off by the end of the month and/or you do not need (i.e. the purchase is not an emergency).
Temptation is a path that leads to action. More specifically, temptation leads to debt and debt leads to stress. That brings us into the first step.
The first thing you need is persistence. Before any of these other steps can possibly help you, the decision must be made not to waver. You WILL resist temptation and you WILL get out of debt. Tell yourself you will do this no matter what. In fact, you will find that temptation is only a state of mind. It will go away when your focus shifts. That is, when you want to get out of debt more badly than you want “stuff,” you will find that temptation is no longer a battle.
Keep this formula in mind. Temptation leads to debt and debt leads to stress. The next time you are tempted, you should see red flags and hear the proverbial bell. Being aware of how our spending habits creep up on us is so important–and so undervalued by most people.
Pay with Cash
Whenever possible carry and pay with cash. Get yourself more tuned into your spending habits. Spending twenty dollars with your credit card at four stores may not phase you, but do the same thing with four twenty dollar bills and you will begin to see why this is a valuable tool.
Be Your Own Line of Credit
One of the most powerful ways to keep yourself out of debt is to have it before you spend it. Create your own “line of credit.” Open a second savings account (if you do not have a savings account, do this first).Place money here for credit card use. It will not be a savings account, but rather a holding tank for your credit card purchases. Your credit limit to yourself becomes the amount you put here. This can be a great way to budget, get hold of impulse spending and be a buffer between yourself and your credit card.
Keep a Register of Your Purchases
One reason credit card spending can get out-of-control is because the credit card industry has designed it that way. Would you use your ATM card without a register? Of course not. Use the same logic with your credit card.
Enter each purchase you make with your card in your check register and deduct it from your checking account balance. Either link your “savings” account to your checking account or (if you think you can handle it) deduct it directly from your checking account. Either way, do not think of your credit card as a credit card. Begin to think of it as a debit card with added benefits (i.e. a tool to help your credit rating and/or for cash back rewards). Make your credit card work for you, not the other way around.
You may find a system that works better for you, but you must find a system. Every thing in life that is important takes effort. Curbing credit card spending and managing temptation depend on you and all the small decisions you make every day.
Do not memorize your credit card number and expiration date. You will be much more likely to use the card—even when it is not with you
Spend less. Find ways to cut costs so that you have more money to spend on the things you really want. Take a look at your monthly utility, phone and food bills. Then use the extra savings to pay down your credit card balance.