Has credit card debt caused you to be stressed and anxious in your everyday life? Has it caused your house to pile up with things you don’t need?
If so, you’re not alone.
As of 2016, in the United States alone, there is was over $762,000,000,000 in credit card debt. Click To Tweet
Yes. 762 Billion dollars.
Worse, the typical American household has over 16k in cc debt.
While taking out a loan for university or continued education is arguably a good investment for some, the majority of credit card debit comes from spending on things we just don’t need.
Now, of course the “common sense” solution to the problem is you should just stop spending money you don’t have.
But like most “common sense” solutions spouted on blogs and talking heads on TV, it often times just doesn’t work.
The truth is, thanks to billions of dollars spent on marketing consumerism, credit card spending is more of a bad habit than anything else.
And as you know, at Pavlok we’re all about breaking those bad habits. Here are a few ways to help you reduce your credit card spending (and debt) in the process.
It’s now easier than ever before to use your credit card to get the latest shirt or iPhone to help you keep up with the Joneses. And it wasn’t long ago, you had to physically get in your car and go to the store each time you wanted to buy something.
Now? Not so much.
With 2 day shipping on Amazon and other online retailers you can literally rack up thousands of dollars in spending in just a few clicks.
Make it harder for yourself to use your credit card. Start by deleting your saved card information from all your favorite places you shop. Delete it from Amazon. Delete it from your password and login app. Delete it from your browser.
Building awareness of your online spending habits is key to crushing your credit card debt. Click To Tweet
Admittedly, this may seem silly to some, but in our experience the more resistance you create to prevent you from using your credit card the better.
Take all your credit cards and throw them in a small personal safe. Use a password on the safe that you don’t know by heart and keep the password written down in a place that will inconvenience you.
For example, you could keep the password written on a notecard in your car, so every time you had the urge to use your credit card you would physically have to go outside to your car to get it.
Of course, you should keep your debit card on your at all times, which will ensure you’re only spending money you can realistically afford.
Another alternative to locking your credit cards up, freezing your credit cards is a fantastic way to really up that resistance. Take your cards and put them in a plastic bag. Load them in the freezer and watch technology do the work.
In many instances, it will be virtually impossible to read your card due to the ice, and you sure won’t be able to slide your credit card through a card reader if it becomes a block of ice.
Again, this might be extreme to some, but you have to give yourself the best chance to succeed.
Out of all the options on the list, this realistically is one of the more practical options. However, depending on your relationship with money and your close friends and family this might not work for you.
A typical conversation would go as follows:
You: “Hey best friend can I use my credit card to buy the $200 pillow made out of the finest Australian sheep fur I just saw on TV?”
Another alternative to help you cut back on credit card spending is to literally cut your cards up.
Of course, you can easily get a replacement card sent your way, but it will definitely make you think twice before you do so.
If you do take this route however, be wary that your credit card might carry an annual fee so make sure to track that before you cut your card into bits as you might forget the account is open!
If you’re determined to have a credit card, this little hack will help you ensure you don’t go too overboard. It’s important to note, this should only be done when you’re confident you won’t go over your spending limit and you’ve ideally paid off your card in full beforehand.
Simply call up your bank, ask to speak to a representative, and have them lower the credit amount on your card.
Use this script to get the job done:
“Hi, yes! I hope you’re having a great day. I’m calling to reduce the credit limit on my card. I’ve been with [insert bank] for over 7 years and want to do a better job spending responsibly.”
9/10 this should do the trick. However, if they insist on keeping your current limit, ask to talk to their manager and again explain the situation. Worse case scenario tell them you’re considering cancelling the card if they “can’t” reduce the limit.
Again, it’s important that you keep in mind the possibility of an emergency in which having a credit line could be helpful. Do not close your credit cards without considering your true expenses.
A quick way to help you keep your spending in check is to devote a weekend (or two) to decluttering your house and organizing your belongings.
Not only will decluttering help you clear your mind, it will be an effective in-your-face-reminder of how much ‘useless’ stuff you’ve collected over the years. The point isn’t to get down on yourself. It’s to remind you, that every time you “need” something, it’s more than likely going to just end up collecting dust.
Getting rid of old stuff you never use, will also allow you to appreciate the items that you’ve kept around, making you less likely to go out on a random spending spree.
While you might be nodding your head and thinking “obviously!” You would be surprised at how many people don’t take advantage of discount savings at a store like Sams or Costco.
Consider buying anything you use on a regular basis in bulk. Toothpaste. Toilet Paper. Protein.
Whatever you use frequently.
We’re not suggesting you go out and buy 22 jars of pickles at Costco next time you’re out, but being smart about your bulk purchases can help you cut back on hundreds of dollars a month.
While we would never suggest you can’t go out and enjoy a nice meal on the town, if you’re struggling with credit card debt, this is a great place to cut back on your spending.
If you currently eat out 4-5 times a week, try to ease into eating a meal or two at home — no need to give up your favorite restaurant completely. The goal isn’t to rob you of your time spent socializing with friends and family, it’s to help you make a dent in your debt
Loads of credit card debt doesn’t mean you can’t have fun, it just means you should aim to be strategic.
No. We don’t mean get another one of those high interest credit cards that stores throw at you when you shop.
There are plenty of free tools and loyalty programs that can help you lock in massive savings. Again, the point isn’t so you can get “more” and spend the same amount you otherwise would have. Rewards programs and discount options are to help you spend less on the things you absolutely need.
Building awareness around your spending habits will quickly allow you to discover any “triggers” that might be causing you to pull out your wallet and buy that iPad online.
Every time you use your credit card, make a note in your spending journal.
Do you spend more at night? After you’ve had a beer or two? After a fight with your family or significant other?
After several months of recording your spending habits, you’ll be able to see patterns of when you slip up, and can make a game plan to help avoid those triggers.
This is another easy win if you’re struggling with credit card debt. Many credit card companies offer balance transfers which allows you to put all your debt on one account.
One of the major benefits of consolidating your credit card debt is there is only one bill each month and you don’t have to worry about missing a payment and paying a pricey late fee.
You’ll also be crystal clear on how much you owe so you can create and execute on a the perfect game plan.
While the majority of this post has been focused on cutting back or reducing your spending, you can always work to earn more money.
Cutting back on your spending is smart if you're struggling with debt, but earning more money is even smarter Click To Tweet
Of course, it’s important to remember that financial habits are just that — habits.
So earning more money won’t solve all your financial woes, but it will give you some breathing room and allow you to build a comfortable lifestyle.
If you’re cutting paper towels to use as toilet paper, you might want to consider looking into additional sources of income (we’ll cover this in a future post.)
If you’re struggling to get your credit card spending in check, you can as a last resort call in to your cards cancelled.
The benefit of closing your account is you’re unable to dig yourself deeper in debt. The obvious downside however, is closing your credit card will very often negatively impact your overall credit score.
That being said, closing your account might give your score a small hit, but defaulting on your credit card payments or maxing out your limit will hurt your score even more.
Before you feel the need to cancel your cards as a last resort, we want to invite you to try our best selling wearable Pavlok/ Pavlok 2 which helps you break bad habits through a small stimulus.
In addition to helping people quit smoking, biting their nails, consuming copious amounts of sugar and more, we’ve had many Pavlok users use this method effectively to curb their credit card spending.
For the first few days you have your Pavlok, use your credit card as you would normally. Don’t go out and buy a yacht online, but spend as if you would in a typical day.
Each time you go to pull your credit card out of your wallet, give yourself a light zap. Do this for several days.
After several days, you can continue using your credit card, but you’ll want to increase your chances of success. In addition to zapping yourself each time you take your card out of the wallet, administer a zap for each number of your card.
8 (zap) 3 (zap) 4 (zap) ….
You get the idea. After just a few days of doing this, Pavlok will have helped you build awareness around your habit, which is the first step in breaking bad habits.
The future of finance and banking. “The wristband that gives you an electric shock if you spend too much.” – The Independent
You may notice your desire to use your credit card less, but at the very least you’ll start thinking twice about ordering those imported alpaca shoes.
We hope this list gives several actionable ways to help you quit your credit card spending. Remember, how you use your credit card is a habit that was created over thousands of individual actions.
It may take some time to get your credit card spending under control, but with the right approach and implementing some of the suggestions above, it’s entirely possible to get your finances under control. Remember, building a healthy financial future is a habit you can learn.
What have you tried to cut back on your credit card spending? What’s worked? What can you do differently? Let us know in the comments below!
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Habits, Technology & Behavioral Change