Just Say No to Plastic

Most budget conscious people know better than to make extensive use of high interest credit cards. Credit card debt can pile up at an alarming rate, leaving you trapped paying usurious interest while the outstanding balance stays the same month after month, year after year until you roll the whole balance over onto a new credit card. We know better than to get trapped in that cycle.

But what about debit cards or credit cards that we use for necessary shopping and pay off at the end of the month. There’s no harm in those, right? Wrong.

The Other Problem with Credit and Debit Cards

The biggest problem with debit and credit cards is their convenience. Think about it. If you go into the store carrying cash, with no credit cards or checkbook on hand, you can only spend what you went into the store intending to spend. If you go over, you’re going to have to put something back.

Adopting a cash and carry policy forces us to pay closer attention to what we’re spending. If you’re serious about putting together a budget to save money, start by leaving your credit and debit cards at home on your shopping trips.

Take cash instead. Preferably, take only as much cash as you’ve budgeted. If your grocery budget for the week is $150, take $150. No more, no less. Keep track of how much you’re spending as you’re tossing items into your cart. If you do go over, put something back. It isn’t the end of the world if you have to decide whether your kids really need Cap’n Crunch and Frosted Flakes. Trust us, they’ll get by with one or the other.

A Little inconvenience is Your Budget’s Friend

Most people would be shocked if they could sit down and calculate how much more they spend per month simply by having a credit or debit card handy. For whatever reason, it’s mentally and emotionally easier to make purchases you don’t really need to make when you’re not physically dealing with cash. The very act of handing over cash instead of swiping a plastic card helps some people to spend less.

Another advantage of putting the plastic away is that your money becomes a little harder to access. It’s easy to drive up to an ATM, swipe your card, punch in your PIN code and get money any time of day or night. Too many of us don’t even bother to keep careful track of the money we withdraw from the ATM.  If you discipline yourself to wait until banking hours to get cash from your accounts, it’s easier to avoid impulse purchases and to keep better track of where your money is going.


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