You Need to Kick Your Credit-Card Habit

 

There are lots of reasons to not carry credit-card debt. The most obvious is that it’s really expensive. And here a reason often overlooked: It’s so much harder to work for money you’ve already spent.

But what if you do not carry any credit-card debt at all? There are some who would say it is perfectly reasonable to use credit to pay for everything you possibly can during the month, provided you are able to pay it back down to $0 during the grace period. But it’s still a habit that can have a negative effect on your financial situation.

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You need to kick your credit-card habit for these simple reasons:

YOUR CREDIT SCORE. The more you use your cards the more likely you are to make a mistake. All of those activities—good and bad—are reported to the credit bureaus and land in your credit file. That information is then compiled into a 3-digit number that can change daily—and be used to determine how much interest you will pay on your mortgage, what your insurance premiums will be and even if you’ll get that job you’ve applied for. Credit scores—like it or not—have become a kind of character reference. Kick the credit-card habit and your credit score is likely to improve all on its own. To get a rough idea of your FICO credit score, you can use the FICO® Score RangeFICO estimator. The calculator is free. Or, you can purchase your credit score from MyFICO.com. On the FICO score range, anything over 720 is good. Higher than 760 is great.

YOUR HAPPINESS. Nearly half of those people who carry credit-card debt experience symptoms of depression. No surprises there. The effects of credit-card debt can be debilitating, if not devastating. But the good news is that kicking the habit allows you to retrace your steps and work your way out of debt. It’s not impossible. In fact, thousands reading this right now have done that using the system that I created and welcome you to use at DebtProofLiving.com. Thousands of people have used my Rapid Debt-Repayment Plan Calculator and Manager and can attest to the fact that each repaid debt returned options to them. And once they were out of debt, their peace of mind returned as well.

YOUR CASH. There are a number of studies that show that people who pay with plastic just spend more—whether it’s a soda machine with a credit-card slot or a great sale at Target. If you’re paying with plastic you just feel freer at the moment to load up the tab. But kick the credit-card habit and leave the plastic at home—and you will spend less. That means more cash in your pocket.

YOUR SHELTER. It’s become the popular thing to tap into one’s home equity by way of a home equity loan or refinance to pay off credit-card debt. But by doing this the homeowner puts his or her home at risk should something happen that makes it impossible to keep up with those new, big monthly payments. Even worse, most people who pay off their credit cards turn around and run them back to the max within just two years, getting themselves into double trouble. Kick the credit-card habit, and you won’t be tempted to tap into this appreciating asset to pay for stuff you charged a long time ago … and possibly don’t even remember now.

Question: How long do you think you could go without using a credit- or debit card? Do you have a credit-card habit?

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7 replies
  1. Audio
    Audio says:

    Yes, we are in credit card mayhem…..we have 7 of them now and although we do not use them, we still have high balances on most of them. The debt has built up over years with college, medical, contributing to elder parents and yes, some fun things and now just the anxiety of having such a high credit card balance and amount of minimum payments each month. I need to get onto the debt repayment plan and make sure that we pay down and contribute money to the next card and so on…It does lead to anxiety and depression just knowing that my husband and I do make good money (thank goodness and feel truly blessed), but could have so much more security without the credit cards. I have even sought out a credit counselor but could not justify paying them $70 per month to “manage the debt”. Any other ideas out there? We are now in our 50’s and need to say no and get very serious, just as you did, Mary…..will apply your principles and hope for a “speedy recovery”. Thanks for all of your advice and resources!

    Reply
  2. Jenn
    Jenn says:

    I have about $1900 in credit card debt, down from a high of $15,000 several years ago. I haven’t incurred a penny of new debt in 4 years, despite taking a 20% pay cut 3 years ago. My husband and I plan to be completely out of debt in 2014, except for our mortgage. Then we’re socking away cash for a cross-country move in 2015 with a goal of having $25,000, not including proceeds from the sale of our house.

    It’s been hard. We’ve given up a lot and say “no” to even more. But we can do it and there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.

    Reply
  3. debra
    debra says:

    Dear Mary, As usual you are right on target! I don’t have credit card debt and if I can’t afford to pay cash I go without until I save for the item. Here’s a question for you my husband and I have unpaid medical bills (the copays and coinsurance amounts) which are insurance company did not pay. Can we still use your rapid debt repayment plan? My husband claims “no” that we are a special case, and I say “yes” just start with the smallest amount and snowball the payments. Who’s right?

    Reply
  4. that_girl
    that_girl says:

    We have two cards, and use them both regularly for gas, groceries, meals out and household goods. Each month we pay them off in full, and benefit from the cashback bonuses that each offer. We’re only buying things we would be buying anyway — why not benefit from it? It also makes it much easier, to me, to see where my money is going each month — I can sort by type of purchase or amount and easily see online how much I spent on groceries, gas, etc. If I paid cash for everything I would have to save lots of unwieldy receipts to get the same effect.

    Reply
    • kaetra
      kaetra says:

      This is how I do things too. With no local branch of my bank anywhere near my home I would spend a lot of money in ATM fees withdrawing cash if I moved to a cash-only diet. If a budget/expense tracking system isn’t convenient you’re less likely to use it. You gotta do what works for you.

      Reply
      • that_girl
        that_girl says:

        I also meant to add (and maybe brag a little ;)) that our credit scores are both very high — husband’s is over 800. So that has never been a problem.

    • Sophie LaFontaine
      Sophie LaFontaine says:

      Me too – only one card though. For everything. I get the rewards AND the money stays in my checking account for a little longer, earning extra interest. Each month the FULL amount is AUTOMATICALLY deducted from the checking account. I do save ALL my receipts and enter each transaction as soon as I make it into a register. I never carry cash. Never. It is simply too inconvenient.

      Reply

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