How to Not Use Your Credit Card

By Kate Evelyn

  • Overview

    Your credit-card balance can add up quickly. One trip to the mall, and you could be out hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Problem is, when you simply swipe the plastic, it can be hard to realize how much money you're actually spending -- which is just the way the credit card companies like it. If you've already gotten caught in the trap, you need to learn how not to use your credit card before your balance gets any higher.
  • Instructions

    • Step 1

      Take your credit card out of your wallet. If you don't have it with you when you're shopping, it's impossible for you to use it. If you seriously can't stop grabbing it before you head out the door or you do a lot of shopping online, put your credit card in a resealable plastic bag. Fill the bag with water, seal it and put it in the freezer. The theory is that you have to wait for it to thaw, and you can use this time to think about your decision instead of being impulsive. If this doesn't work for you either, give your card to a friend for safekeeping.

    • Step 2

      Go shopping with cash so you can learn to pay without plastic. If you need to make a major purchase, put money away in a savings account until you have enough money to afford it. Then withdraw the cash at the bank and take it to the store. Since you're limited to that sum, you can't overspend.
    • Step 3

      Get a debit card or check card. These cards have the allure of the plastic without the high spending limit. You tie them to a checking account and you can't spend more than the balance it contains. Sign up for one with your bank and don't get the overdraft protection. That way if you try to spend more money than you have, your card will get denied. After getting embarrassed just once, you'll learn to keep an eye on your balance.
    • Step 4

      Cancel your credit card as a last resort if none of the above steps works. You can do this even if you're carrying a balance. Just dial the number on the back of your credit card and ask a representative to shut off your credit line. Yes, you still have to pay off the balance, but you won't be able to add more charges.
    • Skill: Moderate
    • Ingredients:
    • Credit card
    • Resealable plastic bag
    • Water
    • Cash
    • Debit or check card
    • Telephone
    • Tip: Remember that making purchases on your credit card is the same as taking out a loan. Do you really want to take out a loan to buy potato chips or movie tickets?
    • Tip: If you're using your credit card to pay for essential groceries or utility bills, see if there are any government assistance programs that can help you.
    • Warning:
    • If your bank offers "courtesy pay," decline it. This service allows you to go above the limit of your debit card, and you have to pay a fee if that happens.

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