Credit card debt is no laughing matter. High interest charges,
ballooning bills, and a damaged credit score are the grim
consequences of getting in over your head with credit cards. It's
no wonder that debt stresses so many of us, and it's important
that we take paying off our debts seriously.
The first step to getting out from under a mountain of debt is
to stop spending with your credit cards. But recognizing that you
need to control your spending and actually doing it are two
different things, and many people struggle with resisting the
urge to pull out the plastic.
This is where getting a little, ahem, crafty with your debt
payoff plan might be in order; just because paying off debt is a
serious challenge doesn't mean it has to lack creativity. In
fact, some of the most effective strategies to keep yourself from
overspending with your credit cards are a little, well,
Looking for a few inventive tactics to keep yourself from
overspending? Check out these five crazy ideas.
1. Freeze your card in a block of ice
The idea behind this is simple -- if your credit card is hard to
get to, you're less likely to use it. And it's pretty darn
difficult to break through a solid block of ice!
To give overspending the cold shoulder, find a large plastic
cup and drop your credit card in it. Then fill the cup with water
and stick it in the back of the freezer. In a few short hours,
your plastic will be tough to access.
The great thing about this strategy is that using the card
requires hours of thawing. Hopefully, in that time you'll rethink
whatever purchase you were planning and put your card back where
it belongs until you're debt-free.
2. Submerge your card in peanut butter
Again, the idea is to make your credit card difficult or
unpleasant to access, which will make you less excited about
using it. This idea is similar to freezing your credit card; it's
just a little ... gooier.
If you prefer gloppy to icy, buy a cheap jar of peanut butter,
unscrew the lid, and wedge your credit card deep down in the
center of the nutty paste. Then stash the jar in the recesses of
your pantry and try to forget about it. If you can't, just think
about how messy it will be to get to your card. The massive
hand-washing you'll have to do to use your plastic will probably
have you reconsidering that pair of shoes pretty quickly.
3. Recruit a ruthless CFO
One of the most effective ways to change your behavior is to
subject yourself to intense social pressure, so to use this
strategy you'll need to recruit a loyal -- but tough -- friend.
That's because you'll be appointing this friend the CFO of your
most important business: you.
Your relationship with your CFO should go like this: At the
end of every week you'll be emailing your CFO a detailed account
of everything you've bought with your card in the past seven
days, and he or she will critique it. You should encourage this
person to be brutal, and then be willing to accept his or her
Pretty soon, you'll get sick of being questioned about every
penny you spend on your card, and you'll quit using it. At the
very least, you won't want to disappoint someone close to you, so
you'll make changes to your spending routine -- pronto.
4. Leave yourself a tough-love note
Writing things down is a great way to remember them, so why not
write yourself a note that doles out a little tough love to
remind yourself that you're not supposed to be spending?
Get a small, blank label and place it on the front of your
credit card. Then use a marker to write yourself a little
tough-love note to discourage yourself from using it. Not sure
what to write on the note? Consider the following:
- You don't need to buy it!
- Keep your hands off this card!
- Not an emergency? Don't touch!
- Debt-free is more important than stylish!
- You made a promise to yourself. Don't break it!
5. Stop, drop, and roll ... for 24 hours, at least
If you tend to overspend on frivolous stuff when you're shopping,
institute a stop, drop, and roll policy: Stop what you're doing,
drop the item, and roll out of the store. The key here is not to
do too much thinking -- just make this reaction automatic, and
you'll break the pattern of mindless spending. If the item is
still on your mind 24 hours later, you can consider going back
and buying it. But more than likely, you will have forgotten
Putting the kibosh on overspending might be tough, but it doesn't
have to be boring. Consider using one of these strategies to put
yourself on the path to debt freedom today!
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