Money Talks, So Should You

10 creative strategies to curb credit card spending

Marie Gentile
by Marie Gentile, Staff Writer (@dimespring)

Are you a compulsive credit junkie? Has your card grown thin from countless swipes? Do you await your monthly credit card bill with baited breath? You, sir/madam, may have a problem.

But don’t worry; we’re here to help. If quitting cold turkey and canceling your cards isn’t an option, we’ve got a few creative strategies to help curb your credit cravings.

1. Leave the card at home. Duh. This one is a no-brainer – if you don’t have your card on you, you can’t use it to spend money you don’t have. Lock your credit cards up somewhere safe and opt for debit or cash instead.

READ: Treating credit like candy

2. “Freeze” your credit. If you don’t trust yourself to simply leave your cards at home, you may need to resort to more extreme measures. Try this: put your credit cards in a ziplock bag, put the bag in a glass of water, then put that glass in the freezer. Next time you want to use your credit card, you’ll have to wait for the ice to thaw before you can swipe. Use that time to think about whether that purchase is really worth it.

3. Give your card to the ‘rents. Who’s better at helping reinforce smart financial habits than good old mom and dad? Hand your credit card off to your parents, then you’ll have to call or stop by anytime you want to buy on credit. This one is especially effective if you like to limit trips home to Christmas and Thanksgiving.

4. Delete autofill on your favorite sites. Many online shopping sites allow you to save your credit card information for a speedier check out. While this is undeniably convenient, being able to make online purchases without even having to get off the couch to grab your credit card is a dangerous game. Change your account preferences and delete your card info. Amazon.com has already gotten enough of your money.

READ: Pocket the best credit card

5. Write yourself a note. Write yourself a motivational message on a mini post-it note and stick it to the front of your card. The content here really depends on what you respond to most. It could be anything from “Hey dummy, put down the card NOW” to “You’re a shining star and you don’t need new shoes to feel beautiful!” Either way, it’s a reminder from you to you that credit = bad.

6. Rubber band it. Grab a handful of rubber bands and wrap them around your card as tightly as possible. Next time you want to swipe, you’ll have to go through the long, arduous process of unbanding your card. This one could also be pretty embarrassing if you’re checking out with a cashier, which may further deter you.

7. Cut and run. If online shopping is your Achilles heel, try cutting your credit card in half and hiding the halves in two different parts of the house. Next time you want to make an online purchase, you’ll have to dig out the two separate pieces to get the whole credit card number.

READ: Can you have too many credit cards?

8. Keep your eye on the prize. Keep a picture in your wallet of something you really want or have been saving for. Try to think big here – taking a vacation getaway or paying off the mortgage on your home. Having a visual of your long-term goal in your back pocket will help rein in some of those smaller-scale impulses.

9. Do the math. Sometimes thinking through the logistics of your credit purchases is enough to scare you straight. Have you ever sat down and figured out how long it will take you to pay off your credit cards? How much money you spend on interest each year? It’s probably not pretty, which is all the more reason you need to do it.

10. Reward yourself. Instead of beating yourself up each time you use your card, try to give yourself a little credit (pun intended) for the weeks or months you go without using it. Treating yourself to a small, inexpensive indulgence will help reinforce good behavior. You deserve it! 

And hey, if all else fails, there’s always hypnosis. You are getting thrifty … very thrifty …

What are the creative ways you curb your credit card spending?

--

Marie Gentile is a personal finance reporter and content producer at Dimespring. She has a bachelor's degree in journalism from Marquette University. A native Midwesterner, Marie is now living in Atlanta and adjusting to life below the Mason-Dixon.