I received an email the other day asking me what I felt was the most difficult part of climbing out of credit card debt. While there are a number of issues that need to be addressed when tackling credit card debt, the habit of using the credit card when you really shouldn’t is a huge contributing factor for most people.
The most difficult part of changing this habit is recognizing it in the first place. The fact that it’s a habit means that you probably use the credit card to purchase things without even giving it a second thought. So the challenge becomes learning how to make yourself realize when you are about to use your credit card in a way which is detrimental to your finances.
There are a couple of parts to this process. The first is recognizing that your current credit card habits need to change. Recognizing them and setting up a plan of what can and what shouldn’t be placed on your credit card is the first step. This first step, by itself, however, is usually not enough. You must also put into place a system that will help you take notice so you don’t fall back into your past habit before you realize it.
A simple way to remind yourself and help break the habit is to place your credit or debit card into a credit card condom (referred to as such because they help “protect” you from unwanted consequences when used properly). Basically it’s simply a paper sleeve that you slip around your credit or debit card that has some type of warning on the outside so that you have to think twice before using it. While this may sound so simple that it seems almost silly, it’s often the exact motivation a person needs if they are serious about decreasing their credit card debt (if you aren’t serious, then credit card condoms – or any other tactic – isn’t going to work).
While there are a number of sites that sell these sleeves for about $5, you can also print you own credit card condom for free and give it a try. If you use your credit card more than you should and are serious about trying to get your spending back under control, a credit card condom may be exactly what you’ve been looking for to help curb your spending. Sometimes it’s little reminders that end up being the most effective tool to help you establish your self discipline when trying to get yourself out of debt.