I have not used a credit card in four months. Since I have had a credit card (somewhere around age 19) I have always carried a balance, consolidated and paid toward, or transferred money from one to another. Four months off the sauce doesn’t seem like much, but for those of you who have gone without a credit card, you know the withdrawal I am going thru.
The look on the sales clerks face when you tell her “No” to her generous instant discount and cash back offer. I have made up every excuse in the book “No, my husband won’t let me open anymore”; “No, I Am am trying to get a mortgage and my broker says not to open more credit”. It’s easer to say that then to tell the truth, “No thank you, I have paid more interest in my life than I ever want to know about. And I don’t trust myself to pay the balance off at the end of the month.” We have trained ourselves to think that people who don’t use credit are somehow not normal- I have had sales reps laugh at me when I refused to get a card, as if I was a circus side show act. They couldn’t believe I wouldn’t accept whatever generous offer they had.
Then when I can’t have the item that I want because the funds in my account won’t cover it– I feel like a child who can’t have candy in the checkout aisle. Every emotion from disappointment, to jealousy, to defeat as I walk away, sullen. More often than not, the day after, I barely remember what it was I wanted in the first place, the item had such little value.
The anger over not having the “It” item of the day is slowly being replaced by a calm that I am in control of my finances. Four months is a long time, and my budget has not been perfect. I have gone on mini spending sprees and gotten a little too close for comfort to the end of a paycheck. But so far, no new debt. And less “stuff” cluttering my counters and shelves, taking up both physical space and mental space in the form of buyers remorse.
Don’t give up. If you are paying off those balances, keep at it. Leave the cards home a few days a week to get used to it. Carry a bit of cash instead, it will help with the feelings of panic of not carrying credit. I worried that if I left home without a credit card, something bad would happen that I would need immediate access to my line of credit. Thus far, my fears have proved to be unfounded.
If you are just getting started, the first step is that you acknowledge there may be a problem with your spending. Don’t listen to me, I didn’t listen to others. It only worked when I made the decision on my own. Good luck on the first steps of your journey.