Credit cards usage is normal in many people’s day to day lives. I got my first credit card at 18. I remember being nervous about having one because I didn’t want my spending to get out of control. Fast forward five years and that’s exactly what happened—I was in way over my head. Go figure…
I used it to buy things I didn’t need. Clothes, accessories, furniture for my first apartment, tickets to shows and whatever else I thought would be fun. It didn’t occur to me how hard it would be to dig myself out of debt until much later.
There became a point where I would pay off a chunk of the balance, just to charge it back up again, and then some. Then I opened a second “zero interest” card, thinking I could move the balance over and start paying it off interest-free. While I felt like I had made forward progress, it actually did nothing. I needed to change my behavior in order to fix this debt issue.
My credit cards were the very first thing I tackled on my debt free journey. I had somewhere around $10K on two cards that needed to be paid off. I was 24 and was beginning to make some major life changes—I’d even say life-changing changes.
Here are a few things that I personally did when I started getting out of credit card debt:
- Left a toxic relationship
- Started a new job with a higher salary
- Never carried the cards around with me
- Never charged anything more to the cards
- Kept my expenses to a minimum. I only allowed myself $50 a week for groceries (breakfast, lunch & dinner)
- Worked on paying off the lower balance card first
- Slowly started building an emergency fund
- Threw every dollar that I could at the credit card payments. Even if no payment was due
- Hustled for more side-jobs
- Surrounded myself with supportive family and friends
I remember the last payment I made vividly. I was standing in my kitchen (I lived alone at the time) and had called to cancel the card. After the accounts were closed I cut up the cards. I felt so proud of myself and so empowered.
I will never use a credit card the way I used to. That entire experience has changed the way I think about what I’m spending money on. It has proven to me that there is a better way.
I currently own two credit cards. One that I use for my business (which is hardly ever) and one that I share with my husband that we use when we travel. We pay it off in full every month and always think through purchases so we know we can afford it that month. I’ve not paid a drop of credit card interest in close to 7 years now!
Credit cards are very convenient and I do see a purpose for them. BUT only if you know you have a certain level of self-control. If you don’t, they are not worth having around.
What are your thoughts on credit cards? Comment below =)
“Debt is normal. Be weird.” – Dave Ramsey
Thanks for reading,