My wife and I have been living without credit cards for four years. For those who are ready to get out of debt, one of the first steps is to break the credit card habit. You can’t fill the hole in while at the same time digging it deeper! Here’s how we made the break -
We Balanced Our Checkbook -
This sets you up for success. If you are going to live without credit cards, you need to know, to the penny, just how much money you have. Grab your most recent bank statement, or go online and review your recent transactions, and balance your checkbook.
We Started To Live On A Budget -
You know how it works. You go to the store, you see something you want, you swipe your credit card, and ten seconds later, you have new debt. It’s just that simple. What would happen, if between want and swipe, you had to think about your budget? Trust me, that seven second pause, between wanting an item and using your credit card can save you so much money. Instead of want and swipe, there’s now want, plan, save, and then swipe – with a debit card!
We Simply Put Our Credit Cards In The Back Of Our Wallets -
We didn’t cut up our credit cards or freeze them in ice water. Instead, we just decided not to use them. Frankly, we don’t miss them, and once we made up our minds, done was done.
We Created A Simple System For Life Without Credit Cards -
I’ve written about our system before, so I will not go into the details here. Suffice to say, we have a system for managing our day-to-day finances, paying our bills, reserving a hotel, or renting a car. Click the link to read more.
We Learned To Manage Our Cash -
I’ve heard it a thousand times – “If I have cash in my pocket, I’ll just spend it.” That might be true, if you still have your credit card to fall back on. On the other hand, if you knew, and I mean knew, that the cash in your pocket was all that you had, I’ll bet that you could learn to manage it. We use the popular envelope system to manage our cash, but you can use any system that works for you. The point is, we are were trying to break a habit, a habit that had haunted our marriage for almost a decade. For us, going cold turkey and learning to manage our cash really worked.
I Stopped Thinking “I Deserve This”
I’ll leave my wife out of this one, because I’m the one who struggled with this. In the past, I could justify almost any purchase by saying to myself – “I deserve this…” It didn’t how much it cost, or how little we had, I could somehow rationalize the use of my credit card. In fact, I can distinctly remember thinking – “What’s a little interest? I work hard, I want it, so I’m going to get it…” When I think back to some of the silly things I purchased, and how I justified those purchases, I feel so ashamed. What was I thinking? Better yet, was I thinking? Now, instead of thinking – “I deserve this…” – I try to think – “Can I truly afford this…”
Breaking a habit can be very difficult, especially a socially accepted habit. Let’s face it, most people use credit cards. And, after you get out of debt, you might want to start using yours again. There’s nothing wrong, fundamentally, with credit card use. The problem is, use can turn into abuse very quickly. I choose to live without a credit card, even though I know, that at this point, I could use one responsibly. For me, I just don’t want to deal with the hassle of credit card payments. So, I’ll just continue to roll with my debit card and cash.
If you are struggling with a credit card habit, there is hope. Have a good long talk with yourself, embrace some of the changes mentioned above, and break the cycle!