Since becoming one of those rare people that don’t actually use credit cards, I often forget just how dependent our world is on them these days. Quitting our credit cards and the debt that came along with them was one of the best decisions we ever made as a family. We made a pact to only buy things if we actually had the money to do so –what a concept. If you have found yourself with more credit card debt than you can manage I have got a crazy practical 10 step guide to stop using credit cards and finally get out of debt.
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Look at your budget
Depending on how far into credit card debt you are, or how dependent you are on them, chances are you will need to take a serious look at your budget.
I have a detailed guide on how to correct budgeting troubles that will be helpful if you have been struggling for a while. Otherwise, take a peek at these few tips on how to start dissecting your budget.
- Start with your paycheck
- Subtract major bills first
- Make note of how much much money you have left after bills are paid
This is a pretty simple, straight forward step at starting to dissect your budget. You know how much you make and how much you need to pay all of your major bills.
But, if you are struggling to pay bills each month and are heavily dependent on credit cards, chances are you are spending excess money beyond just the necessities. If you want to seriously stop using credit cards, your budget is going to need a little more work.
Credit card interest calculator
Not only do you get stuck having to pay monthly credit card payments, but you are paying a ton extra in interest as well! Use this Lexington Law Credit Card Interest
Cut excess spending
After dissecting your budget, checking
Open up your monthly bank statement or check online and start writing down every single purchase that isn’t a necessity. These types of purchases include:
- Out to eat expenses
- Alcohol and cigarettes
- Coffee shops
- Fun clothes shopping
- Cable TV
- Unused memberships
Great ways to save money on fitness:
- Train at Home or at the Gym Without the High Cost of Personal Training
- Start a Home Gym for Less than the Cost of a 1 Month Gym Membership
- Home Gym: 5 Equipment Options for Any Size Home
Depending on who you are, these expenses are going to look different, but these are some ideas to get you started.
Take the time to write down each unnecessary purchase and be totally honest with yourself about what is a necessity and what is not.
Write down each purchase and the total amount of money spent then add up your total amount spent on unnecessary purchases.
If you are using credit cards to purchase things that are non-necessities, you’re in trouble. Maybe you are spending all your money on things that are non-necessities which is causing you to pay for your necessities with credit cards…you’re in even bigger trouble.
If you seriously want to stop using credit cards, then most of the times drastic measures need to be taken to prevent you from falling back into the credit card traps. Find ways to reduce your monthly bills and quit excess spending.
A great way to get started reducing monthly bills is by signing up for Trim. Trim will look at your monthly spending habits and instantly find you different ways to save!
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Money saving posts:
- 12 Ways to Save Over $1,000 Fast
- Find the Best Savings Account to Earn Money and Save Big
- Save Over $10,000 per Year by Making These 7 Simple Changes
Take out a loan
When you are deep in debt, I do not believe digging yourself deeper into it, that’s for sure. However, if you find yourself struggling to get out of credit card debt due to the high-interest rate, taking out a loan might be a smart choice.
You can easily apply online to get a loan with an interest rate (around 12%).
Once you have taken out a loan, use it to pay off all of your high-interest rate credit cards immediately. Doing this may not lower your monthly payments, but it will prevent you from wasting even more money on credit card interest which means you may be able to pay your debt off sooner.
Start paying off debt
Now that you have a sturdy budget, an emergency fund in place, and potentially lower interest rates on your debt, you can get a strategy in place to begin digging yourself out of debt.
This is the biggest step you can take to help you stop using credit cards. The less money you owe to creditors, the more financial freedom you will find.
My best recommendation to start paying off debt is to use the Debt Snowball. We used this method and were able to pay off over $6,000 in just 6 months. See how we did it.
Cut them up
This is the toughest step for some people, but it is the biggest step in the right direction. Once you have your safety nets built up and smart debt payoff strategies in place, it’s time to ditch the dependence on credit cards.
Not only do I recommend cutting them up, but forget the numbers, cancel them…do whatever you have to to completely eliminate the temptation.
I spent most of my adult life being afraid of using cash on purchases. Now I see how beneficial it can be.
The benefits of paying with cash:
- Forces you to stick to a budget
- Allows you to see your spending first hand
- Breaks the habit of using plastic
After we do our monthly budget, I make a trip to the bank and take out all the money we will be using for fun money, groceries and any other expenses we feel we need that month. The only money left in our bank account is to be used for gas.
This has been so helpful when going to the grocery store because I am now more aware of how much money I am spending. I slow down and think through all of my purchases better.
Budget for things you need
Just like you budget your bills, your gas, and groceries, it’s a good idea to plan ahead and create sinking funds for things like Christmas, new car tires, back to school and other major moments in life that you know will be coming.
Setting up a fund for these things will stop you from being totally blindsided by unexpected costs. Planning for these will prevent credit card use and/or dipping into your emergency fund.
Chances are there has been a certain area where you struggle with your credit card use. For me, it’s shopping. I love(d) shopping. Now I avoid malls like the plague because I know how easily I get sucked into over-spending.
Whatever it is that causes you to credit card out of control, start practicing self-restraint by avoiding places that may make you whip out the plastic.
Making major lifestyle changes are never easy, but this one will be worth it! Taking the time to plan and strategize will only benefit you in the long run. You’ve got this. Just keep going.