In my last post I talked about overspending with credit cards and overspending the earth’s resources needing a similar solution: live happily within our means. It feels so much better this way, believe me.
Here are my Top Five recommendations for how to break free of credit cards, based on how I did it. (Note: If your debt comes from medical expenses or not earning living wages rather than consumption choices, these won’t necessarily apply to you.)
1.) Hang out with people who are good with money and live within their means. Learn all you can from them. Behavior is contagious. Tell them your goal is to stop using your credit cards, and ask for their support.
2.) Track everything you spend. An Excel spreadsheet works well. Use categories, i.e. clothing, utilities, groceries, eating out. Be curious and analytic; solve the mystery of where your money goes. Refuse to be a victim. Money is about constant choices.
3.) List exactly what triggers your using credit cards — then avoid the things on the list. Examples: going clothes shopping with Annie; eating out because there’s nothing good in the refrigerator; shopping on the Internet while at work. Vow to your friends you’ll not shop with Annie, will buy appealing groceries, and will simply work while at work. Tell them later about your follow-through (you’ll be motivated to keep your commitments).
4.) Make a long list of low-or-no-cost things that give you satisfaction or joy. Specific is good. Examples: walking in parks, reading mysteries from the library, trading child-care with Cindy, cooking fish, having Mike and Zoe over, fixing bicycles, giving away your unneeded clothes, playing board games and 20 Questions. Schedule these things into your life, making them replace your old credit card activities.
5.) See life without credit cards as making you happier and also a better user of the earth’s resources. Consider this website and program that offer excellent tools on money management.