Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Credit Card Monster

I think most Americans have one. And like the monsters we used to have under the bed or in the closet, it has the power to keep us from sleeping peacefully at night.

I can't speak for anyone else, but I have a pretty good idea where mine came from:
  • Ooooo, stuff is on sale!
  • Buying jewelry supplies is no problem! I'll just resell it later, right? And high vendor fees are totally worth all of the press if I only break even!
  • I'm going to put EVERYTHING on my cards for now, to stockpile extra cash for the co-op purchase! Then I can just pay it all back later.
The first habit I mostly squished a few years ago, as I became Discardian. The second was trickier, but I've put a moratorium on all my business related spending. I still have plenty of unused supplies, and this is forcing me to finally use all of them in unexpected ways.

The third was the worst in the long run, because I didn't notice for a long time what a terrible habit I'd developed. And it's not just what you're spending on the cards, its also what the bank is charging you in interest on purchases. One of my cards doesn't even come with any extra customer benefits due to a SNAFU with the bank. No matter how aggressively I tried to pay them down, they kept building up with new expenses and interest.

My live is fairly uncomplicated, financially speaking, so its a good time to go monster hunting ;-)

Rule one, stop feeding the monster. I haven't frozen my cards into a block of ice, but I have stopped using them all together. Its either cash or debit, and I don't like using my debit card.

Rule two, begin the hack'n'slash! I already have some savings, so I'm devoting everything that would go to debt reduction and savings to just debt reduction. The interest on my credit cards is a lot higher than the interest on my savings account (thanx BoA).

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