Smart Spending: How to Stop Drowning in Credit Card Debt
Want to hear something shocking? According to Indexcreditcards.com, the average American is carrying $4,013 in revolving (mostly credit card) debt and the average household is carrying $7,861 of such debt. Now keep in mind that about 25% of American households have no credit cards, which means the amount of average debt for credit card holding households is at least $10,000.
This, my friend, is a fiasco! There is no way I can be delicate about this. If you are one of the 75% of American households who use credit cards and you want to get out of debt, you must, must, must STOP using your credit card for anything other than large purchases that you have planned and saved for.
Okay, I know once in a while you get one of those 0% interest limited-time offers and this may be a good way to finance a short-term "loan," so to speak. (This is how my husband and I paid for several thousand dollars of extra expenses for our wedding without paying a CENT of interest.) But if you are using your credit cards for things like gas, food, utilities, or even to make your tax payments, you are in trouble! It's time to take radical action.
Here's what I want you to do. Keep your debit card in your wallet or purse—that one is okay since you have to have funds available for it to work—and get a nice big jar. A pasta sauce or salsa jar will do very nicely. Fill that jar with water, say "Abracadabra, prosper me now," (okay, you can forgo that step if you want), and stick your credit cards in there! Now, open your freezer door and nestle that jar FAR IN THE BACK!
No, I'm not kidding! You've got to put a freeze on your spending—You are out of control! Most people buy on impulse, so having your cards frozen—literally and figuratively— is the perfect tool. If you really, really, really want that Christian Dior tawny faux fox muff, you'll have to wait till the ice thaws out—which means, you'll be out of the store, you'll be back home on your couch, and chances are what seemed SOOO important at the time will take a back seat in your mind. I know this idea may sound crazy, but it works!
You've got to stop using credit for essentials and impulse buys and instead align your spending with what really means the most to you. That, my friend, is not that faux fox muff no matter how hard you may try to convince me it is.
Of course, if you ARE one of those households with lots of credit card debt you also need to do several things: 1) call the company and try to negotiate for a lower interest rate; 2) transfer your balance to a lower rate card you already have; 3) pay off your highest interest card first; 4) make it a game to see how fast you can pay down ALL your credit card debt; 5) give yourself rewards along the way—a day at the swimming pool, a hike in the woods, things you love to do that cost little to nothing.
The most enjoyable things in life are neither expensive nor hard to discover. It's time that you stop drowning yourself in debt by overusing credit and instead get out of deep water. It's time to put a freeze on your credit use that puts even Jack Frost to shame.