One of the first pieces of advice you’ll likely run across when you are looking for help getting out of credit card debt is to quit using your cards immediately.
This is excellent advice and should be followed to a T. Some suggest cutting up your cards and canceling your accounts as ways to help you stop swiping plastic so you can get out of debt. Both of these options seemed a little harsh and maybe even illogical to me, so I didn’t do either one of these things to make myself stop using my credit cards. Instead I’ve tried a combination of several different ideas.
Here are four ways to stop yourself from swiping credit cards so you can get out of debt without doing anything too drastic.
Freeze Your Cards
One idea I haven’t tried but I know a lot of people have is to freeze your cards in a block of ice to help you avoid using them unless absolutely necessary. This will really test your willpower as you will have to allow the ice around your credit card to thaw before you can put it in your wallet to use it at a store.
The only downside I can see with this method is that you might still be able to use your credit card for online shopping if you can read the card number through the clear ice.
Leave Your Cards at Home
To help myself avoid using my credit cards for impulse purchases while I’m out and about, I simply leave my cards at home. I keep them in a safe place and only take one with me if I specifically have to use it and it makes logical sense to use it.
For instance, I might still use a credit card for online purchases that I’ve budgeted for because credit cards tend to offer great security for online shopping.
Hide Your Cards
If you find yourself feeling tempted to take your cards with you and the leaving them at home method doesn’t work, perhaps you can enlist a friend or family member to “hide” them from you. If you use this method, make sure whoever hides them for you will remember where they are if you need them for some reason. If they have a questionable memory, maybe a note of where they are hidden is a good idea. 🙂
Wrap a Reminder Around Your Cards
Occasionally I find myself wanting to carry a credit card in my wallet “just in case.” This is usually when I’m traveling. When this happens, I wrap a sticky note reminder around my credit card before I stick it in my wallet with something like “For Emergencies Only” written on it. This visual reminder is usually enough to help me stay strong and not use my credit card for splurges or impulse purchases.
Why You Shouldn’t Close Your Card Accounts
Finally, I just wanted to include a small note about why closing your credit card accounts, as some suggest, may not be a good idea. Closing your credit card accounts lowers the amount of available credit you have which increase your credit utilization ration.
For example, if you have $5,000 of available credit (the total of all your credit limits) and you have debt of $2,000 you have a utilization ratio of 40 percent. If you close an account that had a $1,000 limit, your available credit will drop to $4,000 and your utilization ratio will increase to 50 percent if you still have $2,000 of debt. This will have a negative impact on your credit score as a lower credit utilization ratio is important.
A dropping credit score may not be important to you if you do not plan to use credit again, but if you are planning to purchase a home, a car, or something else on credit you want to make sure your score is as high as possible. Even if that’s not the case, some rental companies won’t rent property to you if you credit score is low and even some employers will not hire you based on a low credit score. Just some food for thought.
Have you tried any of these methods to keep from swiping your credit card? How do you avoid using credit cards? Have you chosen to go completely without using credit cards?
Photo courtesy of: stockimages