I’ll never forget the afternoon that I spent on the phone with my credit card company desperately trying to get back money from several fraudulent charges. I was on the phone for hours. When I hung up I knew I just didn’t want my hands tied down anymore like this.
My solution was to read The Total Money Makeover: Classic Edition: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness in which Dave Ramsey encourages readers to do away with credit completely. That all sounded like a nice idea in THEORY but this was my real life. One where I wasn’t a millionaire and where emergencies, repairs and bills were an ever present danger. So even though Dave Ramsey had people on his radio show left and right taking scissors, lawn mowers and every other kind of creative blade in the world to their cards, I didn’t cut up my credit cards.
Instead, I placed all my credit cards in a drawer.
I could not will myself to cut them up. I confessed to my husband that I MIGHT do it one day when I was more comfortable. But not that day. Honestly, I was afraid of the unknown future.
As time went on and my cards were eerily absent from my wallet I realized that they were like old friends that I didn’t hang out with anymore. We were close for a season. They got me through my early 20’s feeling like I had a security net as I navigated the waters of life.
But the longer the cards sat in that drawer, the less I thought about them. Until about six months later, when I was looking for a pen and I ran across them in the bottom of the drawer. The silver and gold sheen, the twinkle of the holographic logo winking in my direction.
It was then that stopped looking for the pen and reached for the scissors. I scooped up the stack of cards, stood over the trash can and cut them into tiny plastic mosaic tiles and let them drop one by one down into the black abyss of the plastic trash bag.
And suddenly I felt free. And you know what? I haven’t needed them for a single thing since.
Steps to Overcoming Your Fear of Life Without Credit Cards
Dear friend, I know it may not make sense to cut up your cards right now. You may be wondering questions like, “Should I cancel my credit card or just cut it up?” “Should I cut up my credit card after paying it off?” If you are reading this and there is some twinge of hope or longing in your heart to stop using credit cards in your life, I’d like to genuinely encourage you with these simple steps to overcoming your fear of life without credit cards.
Remember, You Don’t Have to Go Cold Turkey-
- Just like with most things in life you know if you are a cold turkey person or a gradual person. You know based on past behavior that you either walk away from stuff or need to come off things slowly.
- Do what works best for you on whether you store your cards away where you don’t have easy access to them for awhile or you simply cut them up and cancel them.
- If you come off them slowly, I am encouraging you to stop using them immediately- not use them less. The fear will continue to follow you until you figure out you can survive without them. So start with trying to survive without them in your wallet or online shopping cart memory bank.
Know Where You Are Financially-
- The best way to feel financially confident is to sit down each month and understand how much you make, intentionally plan what you need to spend as well as see what you spent money on the month before.
- You can use my Budgeting 101 series if that helps.
- If you are living within your means and you have a debit card you can use it to shop at the same places you needed to use a credit card. Gas, bills and online shopping. If you ever get to the place where you can’t pay off your credit card, suddenly everything you bought becomes much more expensive because of the interest they start stacking against you for borrowing their money.
Evaluate if your fears are valid-
- What types of emergencies would actually require a credit card to be paid?
- If you had a medical emergency and a bill came up, you could simply pay the bill in installments with most hospitals.
- If you have an emergency car repair, there are several things you could do to avoid using credit. I really like Lynnette Khalfani-Cox’s (Ask the Money Coach) ideas found in her article titled: What to do if you can’t afford Your Car Repair Bill?
- If you have other fears you’d like to share, I’d really like to hear about them in the comments as these were the main two fears I faced. I’m very curious as to what fears other women in other situations face out there.
Set Up Your Own Safety Net-
- Do you have $500- $1,000 in a savings account in case of an emergency?
- If you have savings, you can always pay for unexpected emergencies out of savings and then put back what you spent over your next few paychecks.
- Tip: If you are getting a tax refund or bonus at your job, those are great ways to quickly build up a savings account that can help you feel more secure in your decision to do away with credit cards.
I know for some people, credit cards provide a feeling of safety. There are so many reasons why we use them. But if credit cards are a perpetual issue for you or you finances, I would challenge you to try taking it out of your wallet for just 3 days. If you make it that long see if you can go a little bit longer! There are many people out there living life without a credit card. If you plan well you can too. If you enjoyed this post consider joining my weekly email list. If you join the list I’ll send you my Conquer Your To-Do List Workbook for free!
Kim Anderson is the organized chaos loving author behind the Thrifty Little Mom Blog. She helps other people who thrive in organized chaos to stress less, remember more and feel in control of their time, money, and home. Kim is the author of: Live, Save, Spend, Repeat: The Life You Want with the Money You Have. She’s been featured on Time.com, Money.com, Good Housekeeping, Women’s Day, and more!