Credit card debt is no laughing matter. High interest charges, ballooning bills, and a damaged credit score are the grim consequences of getting in over your head with credit cards. It's no wonder that debt stresses so many of us, and it's important that we take paying off our debts seriously.
The first step to getting out from under a mountain of debt is to stop spending with your credit cards. But recognizing that you need to control your spending and actually doing it are two different things, and many people struggle with resisting the urge to pull out the plastic.
This is where getting a little, ahem, crafty with your debt payoff plan might be in order; just because paying off debt is a serious challenge doesn't mean it has to lack creativity. In fact, some of the most effective strategies to keep yourself from overspending with your credit cards are a little, well, wacky.
Looking for a few inventive tactics to keep yourself from overspending? Check out these five crazy ideas.
1. Freeze your card in a block of ice
The idea behind this is simple -- if your credit card is hard to get to, you're less likely to use it. And it's pretty darn difficult to break through a solid block of ice!
To give overspending the cold shoulder, find a large plastic cup and drop your credit card in it. Then fill the cup with water and stick it in the back of the freezer. In a few short hours, your plastic will be tough to access.
The great thing about this strategy is that using the card requires hours of thawing. Hopefully, in that time you'll rethink whatever purchase you were planning and put your card back where it belongs until you're debt-free.
2. Submerge your card in peanut butter
Again, the idea is to make your credit card difficult or unpleasant to access, which will make you less excited about using it. This idea is similar to freezing your credit card; it's just a little ... gooier.
If you prefer gloppy to icy, buy a cheap jar of peanut butter, unscrew the lid, and wedge your credit card deep down in the center of the nutty paste. Then stash the jar in the recesses of your pantry and try to forget about it. If you can't, just think about how messy it will be to get to your card. The massive hand-washing you'll have to do to use your plastic will probably have you reconsidering that pair of shoes pretty quickly.
3. Recruit a ruthless CFO
One of the most effective ways to change your behavior is to subject yourself to intense social pressure, so to use this strategy you'll need to recruit a loyal -- but tough -- friend. That's because you'll be appointing this friend the CFO of your most important business: you.
Your relationship with your CFO should go like this: At the end of every week you'll be emailing your CFO a detailed account of everything you've bought with your card in the past seven days, and he or she will critique it. You should encourage this person to be brutal, and then be willing to accept his or her comments.
Pretty soon, you'll get sick of being questioned about every penny you spend on your card, and you'll quit using it. At the very least, you won't want to disappoint someone close to you, so you'll make changes to your spending routine -- pronto.
4. Leave yourself a tough-love note
Writing things down is a great way to remember them, so why not write yourself a note that doles out a little tough love to remind yourself that you're not supposed to be spending?
Get a small, blank label and place it on the front of your credit card. Then use a marker to write yourself a little tough-love note to discourage yourself from using it. Not sure what to write on the note? Consider the following:
- You don't need to buy it!
- Keep your hands off this card!
- Not an emergency? Don't touch!
- Debt-free is more important than stylish!
- You made a promise to yourself. Don't break it!
5. Stop, drop, and roll ... for 24 hours, at least
If you tend to overspend on frivolous stuff when you're shopping, institute a stop, drop, and roll policy: Stop what you're doing, drop the item, and roll out of the store. The key here is not to do too much thinking -- just make this reaction automatic, and you'll break the pattern of mindless spending. If the item is still on your mind 24 hours later, you can consider going back and buying it. But more than likely, you will have forgotten about it.
Putting the kibosh on overspending might be tough, but it doesn't have to be boring. Consider using one of these strategies to put yourself on the path to debt freedom today!