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Stop Using Credit Cards

Credit cards were never intended for everyday shopping, but consumers, urged on by the credit card companies, have gotten hooked on charging instead of buying things the old fashioned way, by paying cash or putting things on layaway.

We've all heard it before. Financial experts have warned against over charging on credit cards for decades, but most of us are still not listening. We have amassed a mountain of credit card debt and now we don't know how to begin to pay it off.

Consumer debt for the average card holder runs anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000 and many people owe much, much, more on their cards. We must learn to stop using our credit cards for anything but emergencies.

Credit card usage has become a way of life for many people who have found that pulling out a credit card, instead of cash, is a convenient way to shop. They use their cards to buy clothes, food, gas, and to occasionally pay their bills.

The overuse of credit cards, some with interest rates of 20% or more, can lead to bad debt, bankruptcy, and liens and/or foreclosure on your home, not to mention the stress, headaches, and sleepless nights worrying about how you are going to pay the monthly bills.

There are ways to control credit card usage:

  • Keep only one or two cards in your wallet or handbag. Cut the others up or leave them in a safe deposit box or other place where you can't readily get to them. Always keep one card free and clear for emergencies.
  • Don't use your credit cards. Pay cash for your purchases, that way, you can keep better track of your money.
  • Don't be tempted to open new accounts. If a card offer comes in the mail, discard it immediately.
  • Make a budget and stick to it. Don't be tempted to buy something that is not in your budget this month with the intentions of paying for it next out of next month's budget. It never works out that way.
  • If you don't have a savings account, open one, and make deposits into it every month, regardless of the amount.
  • Carry just enough cash on you to pay for the items that you have in your budget. Remember, if you don't carry enough cash, you may be tempted to use your credit card.
  • Try to pay off all credit card balances, starting with the smallest ones first. The money you save on the smallest cards can be used to help pay down the cards with the larger balances, but try to focus on one card at a time. Then pay off the cards with the highest interest rates.
  • When you go on vacation, don't use your cards to buy souvenirs, t-shirts, and other items. Buying souvenirs is okay, but try to pay cash for them. Remember, a vacation is not an emergency.
  • If you have problems paying off your credit cards, try to negotiate with the card companies for a lower minimum balance, at least until you are in a better financial position.

The best and most effective way to pay down your credit card debt is to formulate a plan and stick to it.

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