Four things I learned when we quit using our credit card
In getting uber-determined to plow through a couple thousand more bucks of medical bills before the end of the year, we’ve quit using our credit card. We’ve never been big users, but we did pull it out for gas, for online purchases, and sometimes for medical bills. (With 6 kids at home, medical bills pop up like whack-a-moles, even when everyone’s relatively healthy. )
Always our intent was to pay it off at the end of the month, but every few months we’d carry a balance for a month or two or three. And truthfully, it was a rare month that didn’t include paying for something we bought with plastic in a previous month.
No big deal, right? After all, we haven’t had car payments since 1999, and except for the house, and a bit on the credit card now and then, we have no debt. But deciding to stop using the card completely has been a real eye-opener, even for (mostly) frugal me. I’ve come to realize that the credit card was actually my last bastion of overspending.
I have to confess– I almost didn’t write this post because I imagined folks shaking their heads at my silliness. But I figured that if I was caught in the trap, other folks are also out there doing exactly the same thing. So I thought I’d share four things I learned when we quit using our credit card.
1. Your purchases hurt more when they come from the account that holds your real actual money. You know, the account you can’t drain dry because your next house payment is coming soon.
2. You’ll think harder about impulse purchases. Salmon on a hamburger budget? A trip to the water park for 8? A quick run to the store in the gas-guzzling van for three things when John’s economy car will be here tomorrow? Maybe we’ll wait.
3. You’ll suddenly FEEL more broke. This is painful. You won’t have any less money than usual– it’s just that you’re looking your true limits in the face, un-inflated by the false affluence of a credit card. But here’s the good thing: that painful ‘broke’ feeling is exactly what will steer you toward better spending habits.
4. You’ll stop spending your future away. Through the ‘convenience’ of credit, it’s completely possible to spend ALL of next month’s paycheck before it ever hits your bank account. We’ve quit doing that– hooray!
Sometimes we get sick of watching the money more carefully. But the truth is, we’ve got enough for ALL the basics AND a hefty payment on those medical bills every month. We’re moving towards a place of greater freedom than before, and making habits that will give us even more freedom in the future. Will we be rich? Nah– we’ve still got years of having 6 kids at home, and there’s always someone needing something. But we’re on a good path, and we’re really happy about that.
PS- If you need more motivation towards wise financial choices, check out Your Money or Your Life: 9 Steps to Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Independence. I’m planning to write more about it soon– it’s a great book.
PPS- About the slightly higher ad content around here lately – it’s temporary, and it’s really helping us plow through those bills. Thanks, as always, for your support and for your comments!