How to stop using your credit cards
If you are like most people, it is hard to stop using your credit cards. They certainly are convenient when you are shopping, dining out, etc. and you don't have the cash on you. The problem isn't really the card, it is our ability to manage how much we charge, and then whether or not we pay the bill in FULL when it arrives. Some unexpected expense arises, and we decide that we will charge it and pay it off in a couple of months. It doesn't take long and we are charging more to the card and making minimum payments.
If you are one of these persons, make sure you develop a plan to eliminate your debt and then stop using them. The worst thing you can do when you pay off a card is to start using it again. Here are some simple ideas to follow to help control your credit card use.
Lock Up Your Credit Cards
It would be great to never have a credit card again. However, everyone should have access to at least one card in case of an emergency. There may be times when a large amount of money is needed immediately. For example, to purchase an airline ticket in a family emergency or replace the heater/air conditioner when it stops working. The real problem becomes one of easy access. If we carry the card, then we are tempted to use it. One of the best ways to stop using credit cards is to not carry them. Put them in a drawer, or better yet put them somewhere where it will take a few minutes to get them. Some people even put them in a locked box at home or in their safety deposit box at the bank. If you can't do this, at least put them away. You might also consider taping a piece a paper on each card with the words: "FOR EMERGENCY USE ONLY" as a subtle reminder not to use your cards except for emergencies.
Cut Up Your Extra Credit Cards
How many credit cards do you? How many credit cards do you really need? The simple answer is that you only need one credit card with a low interest rate for emergency use only. Get all of your credit cards and lay them on the table. Then examine each one and ask yourself why you need it. If you don't have a good reason to keep the card, CUT IT UP! If the card has been paid off, return it to the credit card company with a letter stating that you would like your account closed.
Learn to write checks for your purchases. The first benefit is you can't make a purchase unless the money is in your account. This may eliminate frivolous spending. The second advantage is that this will get you out of the habit of using your credit cards.
Use Debit Cards
A debit card is similar to a credit card with one distinct difference. When you make a purchase, money is subtracted from your account. Therefore, like checks, you cannot spend more than what is in your account. The difficult part of using debit cards is that you MUST remember to enter the expense in your checking or savings account book
Put a Reward System in Place
Develop a reward system for changing your habits. If you go a month without using your credit card, treat yourself to dinner. If you pay off a credit card, treat yourself to some bigger reward, but make sure that you are not using another credit card to pay for this reward.