Defeating Credit Card Debt With Self Control
By Roy Thomsitt
Credit card debt is a major social problem in some Western countries. To rid
yourself of credit card debt, it is best to recognize the problem as both a
social and individual problem.
If you are overburdened with credit card debt, or are in danger of becoming so,
it is very easy to see it purely as an individual problem, one from which you
may be suffering both physically and mentally. Worry and stress can be silent
marauders into your physical and mental well being. Debt can undoubtedly cause
both worry and stress, not just to the debtor, but their immediate families too.
Why Should You Care About The Social Causes of Credit Card Debt?
If you wish to overcome your credit card debt problem, you will benefit from
removing some of the social influences. They are a major influence on the way
you react, think and behave. Remove the social influences, and you take a big
stride in your journey to eliminate your debt.
I do not, of course, mean remove the root causes of credit card debt. You cannot
do that. What I am referring to is to prevent the social influences from
penetrating you and taking over your life. As an individual, you have the right
to resist social influences where they are harmful. The liberal, unfettered use
of credit cards is an influence you will benefit from resisting.
Just by being fully aware of the social influences, you have made an important
step. You will more likely be on your guard, and by asserting your
individuality, you are more likely to overcome or prevent the credit card debt
What Are The Social Causes Of Credit Card Debt?
You could spend years analyzing the credit card debt problem. Here are just a
few of the influences at work in the society around you:
1. Credit card interest rates are high, therefore the profits can be high. Banks
and other credit card issuers are after their slice of that big money, including
from you. They can therefore justify big marketing budgets to get your money. I
deliberately do not say “get your business”. You will resist better if you think
“they are after my money.”
2. It is very easy to get credit cards, multiple credit cards in fact. Issuers
of credit cards make it easy for you, if you have had no debt problems in the
past. If they seem to take it lightly, it is understandable that their customers
do too. But remember, they take the risk factors into account when setting
interest rates. That’s why they are so high.
3. Your friends, neighbours and work colleagues will probably all have multiple
credit cards, talk about them and flash them around from time to time. That can
all influence your own attitude to credit card debt. 4. Depending on what
country you are in, yours may be a “have now, pay later” society. Immediate
gratification can take precedence over common sense. If everyone else is doing
it, it surely must be right? Wrong. Especially if the interest rates are too
5. You see other people buy new furniture, go on exotic vacations, or go out to
expensive restaurants all the time. Even if you never know if they are doing so
on credit card, you may want the same. But you do not have the immediate cash,
so what do you do? Jump on the credit card train? That is what your society may
be pushing you towards.
How To Resist the Social Pressures To Succumb To Credit Card Debt
Due to the overwhelming pressures of the credit card society, it can be quite a
difficult task, initially, to change your own attitudes. But by asserting your
individuality, you can steadily eliminate the social conditioning. It is really
a matter of how you think in certain situations. You are in charge of the way
you think, so all you need to do is what is natural. Not what everyone else
seems to be doing around you, but what is natural to you as an individual. Think
to protect yourself, assert yourself, and to look after your financial well
Here are a few ideas to help you:
1. Whatever type of loan you may apply for, you are after just one product,
money. Different types of loans are marketed as separate products, in different
packages, but to you, they should all be one: money. The money, once you have
it, is all the same quality. A dollar is a dollar, a pound is a pound, a euro is
a euro. Having engrained that upon yourself, knowing you are just after this
single product, you need only look at price. Credit card debt is very, very
expensive. The interest takes money from you, and reduces your assets. If you
need a loan, you want the lowest possible interest rate, one that does not
unnecessarily leech your assets.
2. A credit card should only be used as a convenience to pay if you have no cash
on you, knowing that you can pay off the balance before interest charges kick
in. Many cards have an interest free period. Never use credit cards as a loan
beyond that free period. Others do, but you have no need to. You can eliminate
that idea altogether. You are creating a new habit that will enhance your
financial situation, and resisting an old common habit that would ultimately
damage your finances.
3. Plan all your borrowing. Sit down and write down what you absolutely must buy
over the next year, and add what you would like to buy. Total the cost. Write
down a budget for each month, making sure you have listed all your regular
expenses that are fixed and unavoidable, and those over which there is some
flexibility. Compare that total with your income. If you have a surplus, then
you can think about those extra purchases you had in mind. If not, don’t think
any more about them. You cannot afford them, and cannot afford to borrow.
If you have a planned surplus, then maybe you can get those things you wanted.
If you can afford all of them, and there are quite a few items on your list,
then forget about getting a loan. Be patient, resist the have now pay later
syndrome. You can save interest and buy a bonus item with that later if you
really must. You are in a great position to pay cash. Prioritize the things you
want to buy, and note their cost, and then work out a plan by which you buy one
item at a time spread throughout the year. Why pay the banks credit, when you
can pay cash? You will save not just the interest but maybe get cash discounts.
Cash gives you control. With credit you are subservient.
If, on the other hand, there are just one or two more expensive items you want
to buy, it is time to compare options and test your resolve. If you save your
surplus each month, consider how long it will take to have enough for item 1 and
maybe item 2. Are they really urgent? Probably not. Maybe you can save for one
after 4 months and 2 after 9 months. That way you are getting into the habit of
saving, and living off cash. Cash is king. Your finances will start to look good
over time, and you’ll start to feel proud of yourself. You will feel in control.
Remember too that by saving, if an emergency comes up, you may have the cash at
hand instead of reaching for that expensive credit card.
You really cannot wait and save? That is a pity, but now check out all the loan
sources suitable for your intended purchases. Get the best plan, the best
interest rates, and apply, with the intention of using that loan just for what
it is intended, and to pay it off within the time scale of the spending plan. In
the example one year. Stick to that discipline, and your credit is still under
your control. And, you have avoided reliance on expensive credit cards.
4. Remind yourself every day that you are only going to use your credit card
when you have no cash on you, as a convenience, and you will repay it before
interest starts to accrue.
5. Also remind yourself every day that sometimes it is good, or even necessary,
to be that bit different, and to resist social pressures. Imagine all the credit
card lemmings heading towards the precipice, while you relax in your counting
house, counting out your money. Real money; your assets. Anyway, it’s great
sometimes to be different, it really does make you feel good about yourself.
6. Never, ever feel you have to buy something just because a neighbour or friend
has been boasting about theirs. Envy and jealousy are viruses that minimize your
individuality, and can, in this case, damage your finances.
Resisting the pressures of the credit card society will be a lot easier once you
have set your mind to it, and started to feel the benefits. Enjoy the process,
and you will be a cash convert for the rest of your affluent life.
About the Author: Roy Thomsitt is the owner and part author of