Kicking The Credit Card Habit

Credit Card habit

Credit Card habit

Why do you need a fistful of credit cards? They are heavy. They make your wallet bulge. They cost money.  You can’t remember how much you have charged on them. Now that even the hoi polloi carry gold cards, prestige lies in flashing a plain vanilla card. For an even bigger thrill, pay cash.

As a status symbol, the credit card is finished. It is now just a transactions workhorse and having too many of them says you are dumb. Assuming, as I do, that you want to get out of debt and build some saving, plastic ought to serve a single purpose: convenience. You put it down instead of writing a check or paying cash. At the end of the month, you pay the bill.

Not that you are perfect. You will still stretch the occasional bill over two or three months; maybe at Christmas or after a vacation. But your goal is never to charge any more than you can easily repay. For the twenty-first century, debt is out.

How to get rid of consumer debt;

It is so simple that I am almost embarrassed to mention it. Don’t borrow anymore. That is all there is to it. Say to yourself, “Today, I am not going to put down a charge card for anything.” When you buy something, pay cash or write a check.

Tomorrow, say the same thing: “I am not going to put down a charge card for anything. I am not even going to borrow $10 from a friend.” Take it slowly, one day at a time. It is like stopping smoking. You will be nervous at first; you won’t see how it is possible to live; you will suffer relapses and sneak a new debt or two. But when you get up every morning, renew your pledge. To make it easier, quit carrying credit cards.

I hear you saying, “I can’t get along without a credit card.” Of course, you can. You can pay by check or debit card. On trips, you can use traveler’s check. You may have to show a credit card to rent a car. But when you bring the car back, pay the bill by personal check or travelers check.  (If the rental agent won’t take your personal check, pay by card and immediately make out a check to the credit card issuer; pay this bill the moment it arrives.)