I was recently reading some posts on Reddit on how to stop using credit cards. Some individuals discussed how they benefit from credit card use, others explained how they don’t trust themselves with credit cards. In classic Reddit fashion, the discussions were direct and spirited. Debating the pros and cons of credit card use is a popular personal finance topic of discussion. However, if your struggling to get a handle on your credit card debt, debating the pros and cons doesn’t really explain why you keep spending with credit cards.
One of the things I learned many years ago when tackling my own credit card debt, was that over time I had developed reasons to justify spending with credit cards. In a way, I was unintentionally duping myself into believing I had good reasons to charge my purchases. These justifications for spending with credit cards came in the form of “little white lies”. Lies I told myself, to feel better about accumulating credit card debt.
We’ve All Done It
We tell little white lies to save face, boost our egos, or maybe just to avoid an uncomfortable situation with a co-worker, family, or friends.
Here are some examples:
- “I thought I responded to your email, I am sure I did.”
Because of all the things you had to do today, their request didn’t even make the top 10.
- “I’m 5 minutes away.”
Because you don’t want to tell them you haven’t left yet.
- Or my favorite, “sure, I get it”
It’s far easier to agree with what everyone is saying rather than admit you have no clue what they’re talking about.
There all little white lies and in most cases the repercussions are harmless. And often we tell them from the perspective of being compassionate and caring.
However, when it comes to credit card debt and justifying the use of credit cards to make purchases; the long-term impact of these little white lies can be a bit more devastating. And worst of all, we often tell little white lies to ourself as a means to justify our spending with credit cards.
There were two little white lies I use to tell myself to justify my spending. These lies not only kept me using my credit cards and carrying a balance, but they kept me in debt.
Can you identify with these little white lies?
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“I Can Afford the Monthly Payment”
Before we make a purchase. We consider what the monthly payment will be and make the determination that we can afford the payment. In our mind that makes it acceptable – so we charge it.
The reality is that if we really thought about the purchase. And what it’s going to cost us in interest charges, versus whether we can afford the monthly payment, we would probably think twice about charging it.
The other perspective on this little white lie is that we never think about the other purchases we may make during the month. The other purchases where we say, “I can afford the monthly payment.”
Individually we may be able to afford the payment, but by the time we reach the end of the month all those individual “I can afford the monthly payment” add up to one big payment.
How often have you been surprised by your credit card(s) statement when the minimum payment isn’t so minimum?
“I Will Pay it Off at the End of the Month”
If you are using credit cards on a regular basis to pay for your purchases it’s likely you don’t have the money in the first place. So if you don’t have the money today, what makes you think you will have the money at the end of the month?
Unfortunately, if you are caught in this cycle, it’s likely your next little white lie will be “I will pay the balance off next month.”
The cycle continues to repeat itself over and over again until eventually, we find ourselves in a mound of debt. Making the minimum monthly payment, paying interest charges and feeling overwhelmed with the credit card balance.
If you are struggling to pay off multiple credit cards, be sure to watch my short YouTube Video on how to pay off credit card debt using the snowball method.
How to Stop Using Credit Cards – Stop Telling Yourself Little White Lies
To some degree, these little white lies create self-limiting beliefs. As you tell these lies to yourself you justify your credit card spending. In your mind charging your purchases becomes acceptable. The result is that you always have credit card debt.
One way to break the cycle is to be upright and straightforward with your decision-making process, and not tell the little white lie.
If you’re in debt and can’t afford to make the monthly payment, but you’re going to charge it anyway, then be honest with yourself. Say to yourself “I can’t afford to make this purchase, but I am going to charge it anyway.”
If you’re not going to pay the balance off at the end of the month say to yourself “I’m OK with paying interest charges and paying more for this purchase.”
Because being honest with yourself, not telling that little white lie will make you more self-aware about how you justify spending with credit. Not telling that little white lie will eventually lead you to ask yourself “why the heck am I doing this?”
Being honest with yourself leads to self-awareness, self-awareness leads to change. Change comes in the form of evaluating your spending based on the full price of the item – not the monthly payment. And paying off your credit card balance every month.
If you’re struggling with credit card debt, stop telling yourself these little white lies. It’s the first step in learning how to stop using credit cards. It will keep you from justifying their use. And set you on the path of paying off your credit card debt and becoming debt free.
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- Your Money or Your Life, Vicki Robbin Your Money or Your Life: 9 Steps to Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Independence