How to Live Without a Credit Card
November 3, 2016 / Sara Davis / Understand My Credit Score
Many consumers all over the country are actively trying to reduce their debt.
It’s not easy, and sometimes people have to make big changes to their lifestyle to turn their debt-free dream into a reality.
A major source of debt for Americans is that small piece of plastic that you probably have in your purse or wallet.
Credit card debt can accumulate quickly, and often through fun activities, like trying new restaurants and going shopping. However, it is one of the most prevalent sources of debt in America. The average household has $15,762 in credit card debt alone, NerdWallet explained.
While other types of debt, such as mortgages, auto loans and student loans, typically have larger balances, paying them down might feel different to the borrower. This is because, when money gets tight, it’s easy to pull out the credit card for things like groceries or gas.
This solves a short-term problem, but it makes the long-term issue worse.
There is only one way to address this problem, and it comes in two steps.
The first is to rethink your debt repayment plan.
If you are using your credit card for monthly essentials, it means you are not budgeting correctly. While it’s important to allocate enough money every month to your various debts, it’s just as crucial to make sure you’re not putting so much money toward them that you can’t afford essential purchases.
The second step is to change your credit card usage habits.
If you’re using it to make many of your purchases, you may have a hard time not reaching for the card the next time you need to make a payment. You can impose rules on yourself about how to use your credit card. For instance, only use it for your utilities bill, which you know you can afford to pay down every month, or only in emergency situations.
Cutting Out The Cards
However, if you are someone who has a hard time sticking to those rules, it may be time to take a harder stance on the issue.
Instead of keeping it in your wallet for only specific uses, consider leaving your credit card at home, out of reach.
Or, you can get rid of it altogether. After all, you can’t have credit card debt without a credit card.
While today’s world, in many ways, is catered to cardholders, there are plenty of adults who have found their way without one. In fact, according to Fox Business, nearly two-thirds of millennials don’t own credit cards, and more than one-third of adults over age thirty don’t, either.
One former credit card user, Liz Smiley, a Florida resident who paid down nearly $38,000 in credit card debt, told DailyFinance that she is now happy solely using a debit card for purchases. While there are obstacles, such as business that only accept credit cards, Smiley said she has found ways to work around those roadblocks.
For instance, car rental businesses often require that debit card users provide a security deposit of $100, while credit card-using customers are exempted. Smiley said she always makes sure she has at least $150 extra in her checking account before potential situations like this.
According to U.S. News & World Report, those who give up their cards for good often find they develop a better understanding of what their spending habits are and how to save their money responsibly.
“Credit cards distance you from your hard-earned money,” said Gail Cunningham, vice president of membership and public relations at the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. “We’ve found people who decide to live on a cash basis end up saving around 20% of their previous spending and they do it without feeling deprived.”
Regardless of whether you’re trying to get yourself out of debt or just trying to save money, giving up your credit card might be the way to go. Even if you only start out trying it for a month and see if it works for you.
We’re not asking you to cut it in half, just hide it for a little bit.