03/25/2014 01:30 EDT | Updated 03/25/2014 01:59 EDT

6 Strategies To Keep You From Paying With Credit


Credit isn’t inherently bad. Used correctly, it can help you achieve a good credit rating which can be used to start a small business or buy a home. Used wrong, it can hurt you financially and emotionally, even leading to bankruptcy. But most of the time, it is used for all the wrong reasons. So why play with fire and risk interest rates and debt that will come back to bite you in a big way?

If your credit rating is in good standing, it may be time to consider tucking the credit card away and paying for all your items the old-fashioned way: with money that’s actually in your bank account. So why should you put your credit card to rest? Well, for starters:

Avoid The Charge: Strategies To Keep You From Paying With Credit

1. You only spend what you have

Want something? Do you have the money for it? If you don’t, then you can’t buy it, and you’ll have to exercise budgeting and planning options going forward. Opting for debit transactions means you can live within your means, and that means you’ll live outside of debt.

2. You’ll learn a lifelong skill: budgeting

It seems obvious but setting a budget can help you control your spending. If you are aware of how much you can spend each month on food, clothing, rent and other necessities, you know how much you can spend using your debit card. It’s much harder to spend-and-forget when that money is coming right out of your bank account, which leads us to our next point:

3. Track your spending in real time

If you do decide to use your debit card, then you need to define what you need, and what you want. For example, paying your rent is a definite need, but that new blazer is a want. Prioritize the needs over the wants, and use your budget to keep track of your spending.

4. Know your limits (or have your bank set them for you)

The beauty of using a debit card for all your transactions is that you can set a limit to your daily spending. If you know you have a tendency to overspend, you can set a lower limit on your debit transactions just by speaking to your bank. Credit card companies, on the other hand, are more than happy to meet your spending with higher limit credit cards and harsh interest rates and late payment fees.

5. Take advantage of technology

Are you still afraid of overspending? There are apps that keep track of your spending by tracking your invoices and letting you know when you hit your pre-set limits. You can track everything: your mortgage, daycare, gas, and even your salary. Having the numbers right in front of your face will keep you honest.

There are dozens of these apps available, so take a look through and see which one works best for you.

6. Remove yourself from temptation

It’s time to break up any and all deal websites that only take credit cards. Realistically, are you going to really use that series of 10 sessions of electrolysis from a spa you’ve never heard of? (No, you’re not.)

Before you blanch at having to unsubscribe from every single shopping/sales email (because that could take weeks), there are tools that can do that job for you in just minutes. Out of sight, out of mind.

Using your debit card instead of your credit card means you’re not overspending and you’re not paying thousands of dollars in interest. You’re only spending what you have. It takes some planning but once you’re done that, you can enjoy the pleasures of a debtless life. You’re welcome.