Credit Cards. We love them as much as we loathe them! They get us out of a bind, allow us to collect frequent flyer points, let us shop from the convenience of our couches and let some of us buy things that we couldn’t have otherwise afforded.
Some of us have brilliant control when it comes to our credit card spending habits. We treat it like cash and we pay off the entire amount every month. Pat on the back to you if you are one of those people. However, if you’re with the growing percentage of Australians who’s credit card debt continues to grow and accumulate (Australians currently owe $51.7 billion dollars in debt- $32.6 billion of that is interest being paid to the banks) know you’re not alone.
The average Australian has around $4,300 in credit card debt according to recent figures and more than one credit card in their wallets.
I love the convenience and ease of having a credit card. However, there are times in the past where my credit card spending was a little excessive and it soon caught up with me- like tends to happen for most of us. A little bit here and there and hello, before you know it you have racked up a credit card debt.
There are two things I found for myself personally and have seen in others also, that stood in the way of losing my credit card debt for good.
Out Of Value Spending
The convenience and ease of shopping with a credit card means we can spend money without feeling like we are actually spending money. As a result we buy items without fully thinking through the purchase. Items that are out of line with our values. That’s why so many people who say they love to travel don’t and instead have an overflowing wardrobe full of clothes or a house full of stuff they don’t really need. And then find they don’t have money to travel.
Have you also noticed that purchases made on our credit card don’t always make us feel good? Instead we are left feeling buyers remorse, particularly when it comes to online shopping.
That feeling is an indicator of spending outside of our values. Credit card use makes spending in line with our values a harder task than if we were to stand in front of the shop assistant and physically hand over the cash for those items.
If this sounds like you try paying for more of your items with cash when you can and see how you feel about your purchases. It will make you more mindful when it comes to your spending and might just make you rethink some of your purchases!
This is a big one. Guilt and credit cards- they mostly go together like a horse and carriage. But guilt is the most unhelpful emotion we can have when it comes to credit card debt. Feeling guilt doesn’t stop us from spending, it makes the majority of us spend more!!! Obviously credit card debt isn’t ideal but feeling guilt around your credit card debt simply adds to your burden. You won’t get rid of your credit card debt by feeling guilty about it- you will add to your debt.
So lose the guilt and once you’ve reached that point of calling enough is enough on your credit card debt change your attitude around the associated debt. Be grateful that you had that credit card. It allowed you to do something. What was it?
“Thank you for letting me spend up and have fun while I was on holidays. Thank you for allowing me to spend a little without having to always run every purchase past my husband. Thank you for paying all those bills for me when I simply didn’t have the cash to be able to. Thank you for keeping food on my table for my family. Thank you for giving me a little more financial freedom and joy when I was studying and had no spare money”.
Whatever it might have been, the credit card served you a helpful purpose in some way. Be grateful for it and than break up with the guilt.
If we can take the emotion out of debt and our spending then we are more able to pay of our credit card debt. It’s all about changing the emotion we have attached to our debt.
And if you have a credit card debt that you want to rid yourself of?
- Stop all spending on your credit card. Cut them up if you need to. Seriously.
- Pay off the minimum monthly spend every month of each and every card that you own.
- If you have one credit card put as much excess cash into the account to pay it down at the end of every week. Even if it’s only $20. It all adds up in the long-term.
- If you have more than one credit card debt. Consider consolidating your debts onto one card. If you can’t then pay off the minimum monthly spend on each credit card that you have every month (if you can) and throw all your extra money that you have towards paying off the credit card with the lowest debt. Focus on paying off completely one credit card at a time. Starting with the lowest means you will pay it off quicker, allowing you to then turn all your attention to pay off the next one, and so on for any credit card after. Focusing on paying down completely one card at a time will help you to feel less overwhelmed, less burdened and more like you’re getting somewhere. And positive feelings bring about more positive behaviour.
If we can take the emotion out of debt and our spending then we are more able to pay off our credit card debt. It’s all about changing the emotion we have attached to our debt. Feeling constantly bad about something never turns something good. EVER!
Break up with your credit card debt on good terms can feel really good. I needed you then but I no longer need you now is freeing and opens you up to paying it off in a positive manner.
What has your credit card debt allowed you to do? What positive purpose has it served for you?