I’m done. I’ve played the credit card game long enough.
Since that first time in college, inspired by the euphoria of attending my first college football game, I’ve always sort of been under the spell of credit cards. I eagerly grabbed that Discover Card clipboard and gave up my credit virginity.
I kept reminding myself of all of the benefits – reward points, insurance, floating money through the grace period, a higher FICO score, and on and on.
Rarely did I ever stop to consider the danger. Unfortunately, that neglect led to many thousands in credit card debt. I worked my butt off to pay it all off. Here I am years later squandering more money on credit cards.
I’ll just use the cards for groceries, and gas, and online purchases. I’ll pay them off every month. I won’t put more on the credit cards than I have in my checking account. What a stupid game I played all these years.
Last weekend I sat down with my credit cards and we had a heart to heart. Yes, breaking up is hard to do, and so it “cutting up.” But sometimes when a relationship has gone toxic you just have to do it.
I jotted down the few benefits of keeping my credit cards. The list was even shorter once I put pen to paper. Then I began my list of all of the reasons I hated them.
17 Reasons Why I’m Ending My Toxic Relationship With Credit Cards
1. I want to own things as soon as I buy them. From groceries to gasoline to a new book from Amazon, I want to take ownership of things as soon as I buy them.
2. I’m tired of bank errors and card skimmers. I was one of the victims of the large Target credit card fiasco, and it really ticked me off. Automatic charges got declined and I spent precious time waiting for a new card and then updating all of my utilities and subscriptions with the new card information.
3. I feel out of control. Maybe it’s easy for some people to walk in a casino with $100, gamble it away and leave. For others, it’s easy to have one drink after work before going home. For the rest of us, moderation isn’t our thing, and we have to set limits for ourselves.
4. I’m kidding myself with reward points. One of my cards offers a pretty sweet deal, on the surface. For $75 a year I can earn cash back at the grocery store and gas station. The card easily pays for itself, but I find myself trading rewards for reason #1, and I don’t like it.
5. Spending cash hurts, and I’m a financial masochist. It is so easy to pull out a credit card and swipe it for clothes or electronics or dinners out. But try laying down $20 bills for those same items and it hurts. It’s good for you to feel that pain.
6. I don’t follow the herd. Most of the “smart money” guys out there like to tell you that credit cards with great cashback or mileage programs are the way to go. “Just buy things you would normally buy and pay it off each month,” they say. Of course, their resumes usually start with companies like JP Morgan Chase or Citibank. Kind of hard to bite the hand that feeds you.
7. I need to set a better example for my kids. I’ve spent most of my children’s formative years preaching against the dangers of debt. Then I went out and financed a truck (yes, I sold it later) and I whip out a credit card at the end of our weekly family grocery trip. Talk about feeling like a fraud.
8. Relying on plastic makes us less able to prepare for disaster. Consider what all has to go right for a credit card transaction to go smoothly. The swipe, the communication and authorization between merchant and processor, the signature verification, etc. I think I’d rather just plop down cash – works in power outages, bad weather and internet outages.
9. I need delayed gratification to break my spoiled habits. I have had my heart set on a new tool chest combo to organize my scattered set of tools in the garage. I could easily go pick it up today and put it on a credit card. But I’ve chosen to wait. I’m diverting $25 per paycheck into my “Tool Chest” sinking fund and when I have enough cash I will buy it.
10. Interest is like paying for something twice. Even those with great intentions of paying off the credit card bill every month slip up. And when you do, you pay for it. I despise interest. Interest steals from your future paycheck.
11. Celebrity endorsements of credit cards annoy me. What’s in your wallet? Cash. No amount of pirates or paid actors or dancing girls is going to make me feel differently about credit cards.
12. Losing my wallet will be less of a big deal. I’ve only lost my wallet once. I freaked out. I struggled to remember which credit cards were in my wallet. I wondered if someone used them.
13. My grandparents lived just fine without credit cards. Debt is not a new invention, but credit cards are still a relatively new concept. The first modern credit card didn’t come along until the early 1950’s. How did people function without plastic before then? They paid cash. They bartered goods and services. They ran a tab at the local pharmacy or grocery store, gave a firm handshake and did whatever they had to do to pay it back.
14. Banks and financial gurus are against the idea of living without credit cards. Like I said, I don’t run with the herd. There is a reason these people encourage us to keep using debt – it keeps them employed.
15. I’m a simple man. Life has gotten so complicated. Credit cards, bank accounts, email accounts, passwords, smartphones, etc. I’m a simple man. Credit cards, and all of their baggage, are one less thing to worry about.
16. Spending cash makes it easier to negotiate. Several locally-owned stores in my area give a 10% discount for using cash. The last big piece of furniture I bought I used cash and was able to get a discount and a side piece thrown in for free. Money talks – cash is loudest.
17. I don’t like having all of my purchases tracked, analyzed and reported. I have nothing to hide, but sometimes I grow weary of having everything I look up online, and everything I purchase, and everything I say on a cell phone, tracked. Whatever happened to an expectation of privacy? Those who wish to track our every move don’t like cash, and that’s exactly why I do.
I can hear many people now asking, “but how does he buy something from Amazon.com?” Or, “how does he reserve a hotel room or a rental car?” Well, guess what, all of those places accept debit cards. However, I prefer to trade my cash for gift cards when I can to handle those transactions.
Nearly every grocery store and pharmacy chain now sells store gift cards. It’s easy to load up on Amazon gift cards with cash and fund my Amazon account in advance. I’ve even bought Visa gift cards for travel purchases with no trouble.
The decision on whether or not to cut up your credit cards is yours. I’m just telling you what works best for me. But don’t let yourself be fooled by the glitter that surrounds the product; at its heart a credit card is just a quick way to acquire debt. That’s all it is.