Many people struggle with debt simply because of impulse control. Getting out of debt and maintaining financial responsibility, then, is a matter of keeping a strong and healthy financial mindset.
If you are struggling with the burden of credit card debt, your battle is probably one from within.
More than likely you are dealing with a very convincing voice inside you that guides you to make irresponsible decisions. Most people have this “inner spender” but some have better self-control than others. If you are, indeed, having trouble controlling this “inner spender” you should be aware of the many tactics it employs to get you to spend and be prepared with counteraction so you can keep your financial goals on track.
One of the first ways the “inner spender” tries to convince you to spend is the age old adage that “you deserve it.” Work is a means to an end: log the hours and get a paycheck, which pays bills but also provides money for personal use. While spending a little from each paycheck is not necessarily a bad idea, using a credit card to purchase something you cannot afford is something that nobody deserves. If you really want to indulge, have a plan and a budget and schedule time to shop so that you do not get caught up in impulse buying.
Many people who fall into the trap of spending out of a sense of deserving also experience the desire to spend out of a need to improve their mood. Maybe you had a bad week and you know that a little gift will make you feel better or splurging on a fancy dinner will make you forget a particularly tough morning; the truth is that the stress will return once the bill comes. It is ok to reward yourself for surviving a stressful situation but don’t negate it by splurging. Instead, consider a relaxing bath or a stress-relieving workout; running is actually quite meditative and can release endorphins that make you happy.
Another lie that people tell themselves in order to overextend their budget comes out of realizing that other people have what you want. We, as animals, want instant gratification. We also want to feel as though we are equal to (or better than) others. When we see a co-worker or a friend or family member with something we want, the need to rectify this is almost instantaneous. This doesn’t mean that you cannot have these things, but you should set up a budget and save up for it, just like anything else that you have responsibly chosen to buy.
One of the biggest lies that we tell ourselves when it comes to money is we trivialize the actual cost. You might look at the price tag and see that it is on sale or, even worse, on a clearance rack (which means this could be the very last time you will be able to purchase this particular item), and the price will be much more attractive. While $200 item marked down to $50 is a great deal, charging it to your credit card could easily net you twice the cost in interest if you don’t have a plan for paying it down. If you have the cash to buy it outright, you are in the clear, but if you have to charge it this might not be the best time.
Flexible return policies can also be very convincing for spendthrifts. Knowing that you can take it back later removes the pressure of being impulsive. While your intentions might be good, many people end up keeping the items even if they don’t use them, and then end up also paying the interest on their credit cards.
- FTC Warns of Prepaid Card Scams – May 23, 2013