Give Your NAUGHTY Credit Card a TIME OUT

Put your Naughty Credit Card in a Time Out. #AdriansCrazyLife Have you been hitting the cards a bit too hard lately? Me too. That's why I'm giving mine a time-out!

I found a post on one of my social media sites that really got me thinking. This lady was declaring a 90-day spending moratorium because she realized she had created some real debt issues for her family.  It wasn’t the fact that she was sharing this that got me thinking.  It was the response to it.  I was amazed at how many negative comments she was getting back.

She was asking if anyone wanted to join her in her spending freeze and most of the comments were to the effect of “No way!  I’m not about to stop spending.  I couldn’t possibly.  And besides, I deserve it.  Look at how much money my husband spends on _____”.

I thought that was kind of an interesting attitude.  Lord knows, I’ve had my ups and downs with money.  I’ve been deep in debt more times than I could count, managed to climb back out of it, and end up putting myself right back into it within record time.  My mother was quite the shopaholic and I’m sure I come by these tendencies honestly!

But sometimes you have to take a realistic look at the big picture.  How does your excessive shopping affect your family?  How can it affect your future?  Debt is a nasty thing that sneaks up on you bit by bit until suddenly you are in over your head.

I think putting your credit cards in a time-out is a very sensible thing to do.  I know when I catch myself going overboard, the first thing I do is switch to cash-only and it turns things right around for me.  Spending actual paper money is so much more “real” than handing over a piece of plastic – even a debit card.  See my related article Why Paying with Cash Hurts – It’s a Good Thing!

Regardless if you put them in a drawer, freeze them in ice, or hand them to a trusted family member, taking your credit cards out of the picture forces you to get realistic and creative about the things you want.  You start asking questions like:

  • Do I really need this?
  • Can I make it or come up with something similar?
  • Can I borrow one from someone?  At least to see if I really am going to like it.  I wish I’d done that before I bought an iPad.  It didn’t do what I wanted to do and it seemed like just a larger version of my smartphone, so I sold it to my son after 6 months.
  • How can I save up for it or earn extra money to get it.
  • Can I put it off until a time when I have more money?  That’s a good strategy because sometimes you’ll forget about it or find something else you want more.

I used to have a rubber stamp/scrapbooking business and it taught me a lot of about women’s spending habits.  I would see women buy hundreds of dollars worth of products that I knew perfectly well they were never going to touch.  I would see some women hide their purchases from their husband, or split them between cash and credit cards to obscure how much they were spending.  They even had shirts printed up that said “My husband lets me buy all the stamps I can HIDE”.

Some women were from the “have to have it all” school of thought – they would automatically buy ink pads or paper in every single color, or buy every accessory that came out in a certain style, even if they couldn’t afford it and probably wouldn’t use half of them.  Those situations always used to make me sad.  Even if your family is well off, there is a limit to your income and buying things just to make yourself feel good is never a good choice.

I’m pretty good about not doing that kind of “gimme, gimme” shopping, but it’s the little make-ends-meet kind of spending that gets me in trouble.  If I don’t have extra cash for a birthday gift or a special dinner out, I’ll charge it, or if it’s the last day or two before payday, I’ll charge some groceries, or a tank of gas.  I always think it’s just a little thing and I really do need it, but if I’d been smarter with my cash earlier in the payday, I wouldn’t be in such a tight spot!  And those few dollars add up over a month or two…

So, I think it’s time for another round of time-out – for both me and my husband.  Even a 30-day no-credit moratorium will help us at least a bit.   How ’bout you?

 

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Comments

  1. OH MY Adrian, I am slightly freaked out right now. You commented on my blog about my narcolepsy – so we have that in common. I work full time in the Financial Services industry – and I have for 21 years – so we have that in common… and I actually have a post in my draft folder – I was going to hit “publish” in a few hours about almost the exact same topic. That’s hysterical! I completely agree with you that debt is something that creeps up slowly and those small “I deserve it” purchases add up – quickly. Great tips! I am glad you found my blog.

    • Isn’t that funny when you meet someone and have so much in common. It’s obvious that we’re blog sisters! I’m glad you popped by. Feel free to visit often.

  2. Great food for thought! It’s too easy to rack up the credit card bills, whether you need the stuff or not. I’m starting to use cash more often, and it’s a good reminder that money is not limitless.

    • Smart girl. That is one of the lessons I learned very early on in our marriage. I have the self-control of a 5 year old child, so I need to rely on strategies like just staying out of the store. Thanks for stopping by.

  3. I’m with you! I am on a roller coaster when it comes to my credit card. I pay it off and max it out and pay it off and max it out. What’s my deal? I am switching to cash for now and we’ll see how long I can keep my card debt-free!

    • Actually, I can relate to that more than you know. I have the willpower of a five year old child! All we can do is the best we can do. Hope these tips help you.

  4. I think this is so true and very important! We have been trying to be better with our credit car. I think we are going really start watch more that our house is .

    • It’s just like weight loss – it’s a lifelong change and it’s HARD, but you can see amazing results if you stick with it. Thanks for stopping by!

  5. I love this post. I totally feel ya with the going to cash only. It keeps me much more accountable for my spending and prevents my husband and I both spending the same money twice! Ha ha. Thanks for the good reminder. :)

    ~Laura
    Fresh & Happy

    • Yes, I should have mentioned the woes of the shared checkbook. We’ve done that a few times also! Good tip. Thanks for stopping by.

  6. Good idea! We have one credit card and I have one bill that goes to it. pay it off immediately. And if there is something that I want to purchase and feel safer using a credit card than my bank card I make sure I can pay it off immediately. Really our credit card is for emergency use only, not to buy other things. But that’s not always the way we operated. It took hard work to get to this point.

  7. My husband and I have been talking about it. I may simply just take out a certain amount for groceries each week and declare a spending freeze. We could stand to do that!

  8. That’s a really great idea! Even better if I could make my husband do this! LOL

  9. I say, “way to go”! I have cut back on my spending recently! It’s not easy, but I love the 90 day plan because if it is a habit that would break it! Hmmm…I am thinking about trying this.

  10. Thanks dear Jen! You are a great friend!

  11. hey girl, you’re beginning go talke just like me…. hahaa…

    thank you for this posting. it is very eye opening. yes, I too spend more that most people can save for rent in a month. I too has been on the “in-debt” side and no way am I ever going back…. I am very proud of you, and support your 90 day hold. I’ve made a commitment to never buy if I don’t have the cash for it. So far, it’s been working – thank the lord!!!! In your honor, I will refrain from posting anything new that I’ve bought within these 90 days, cause i don’t want you to have any withdrawals….. hang in there…

    lots of hugs,
    Jen

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