Use Cash – Umm, That’s the Green Stuff that Used to Be in Your Wallet

scream and shout
Image by mdanys via Flickr

True story. Five-year-old child sees a toy on TV and proceeds to jump up and down saying, “Oooooooh, mommy, mommy, mo-mmyyy! I want it. Gotta have it now. Buy it for me.” Naturally, said bundle of joy is unaware that THAT toy in particular costs an astronomical sum of money, which is why mommy replies, “Sorry, kiddo. Ain’t got the money to buy it.” To which the child replies, ever so optimistically, “It’s OK, mommy. Just buy it with your credit card.”

What is the moral behind the story, you may ask? Although children grasp the concept of buying things with money, that is, trading paper bills for goods, at an early age, it takes them a while longer to understand how credit cards work, and that credit card bills have to paid, too. They stare in wide-eyed wonder as you pay for a shopping cart full of food with this little plastic card, and think it’s magic. But we are adults. And we know better, right? Right?

Sometimes it’s easy for us to forget. You hand over your card, and pull a Scarlett O’Hara (“I’ll think about that tomorrow”). And tomorrow comes along with lots of bills to pay, among which you’ll surely find – your dreaded credit card bill. If you’re worried about your mounting credit card debt, and want to make a commitment to lower it, fortunately for you, Cost Coachette is here with 3 simple strategies that will help you wipe out credit card debt for good.

These strategies center around a very basic, simple idea: use cash, and avoid using your credit card at all costs. You may not be aware of the amount of interest you pay every month, but it does add up. It’s money wasted down the drain. When we use cash, we are more aware of the amount of money we spend. We hand over a large bill at the beginning of the day (to pay for a breakfast you could easily have had at home), and see that by the end of the day, all of our change is gone. What happened? You will be able to backtrack and analyze your spending habits.

Cost Savings Strategy # 1: Define a weekly or monthly budget for your expenses, and withdraw your budgeted amount from your checking account to spend over the course of the week or month. You may even set aside a certain amount for specific things, like groceries, and keep it in an envelope specifically labeled “Groceries”; that way you’ll be spending only the funds you’ve allotted for each of your expenses.

Cost Savings Strategy # 2: Carry less cash on you. Take only what you think you’ll need on a particular outing or errand, and maybe a little extra, but don’t carry hundreds of dollars with you, just because. That way you won’t be tempted to buy something you don’t need.

Cost Savings Strategy # 3: Avoid paying for things with your ATM card. When you pay cash, you’re more aware of how fast you may be depleting your funds, something that you may completely lose track of if you pay with your ATM.

So, grow up and own up to your excessive credit card debt. Remember a child may not understand how things work. But you’re not five years old, and you know full well what you’re getting into.

Of course, some kids have such an annoying scream, you just give them the toy…

But a word of warning . . .