Credit cards have become an indispensable part of modern life. Try to purchase something online, book a flight, or rent a car without a credit card, and you’ll soon discover that the world encourages you to pay with plastic. Unfortunately, those necessary evils, credit cards, can make it way too easy to borrow too much money. It’s so tempting to pay with credit for online purchases, meals out, holiday gifts and other “must-haves”, that your credit card debt can easily spiral out of control before you know what’s happened.

How Credit Card Debt Happens 

Credit card companies encourage you to spend, spend, spend. They make serious money on people’s urge to splurge. Credit cards charge interest on the money you borrow from them. Some interest rates can be as high as 15 to 20 percent, which, if you carry a large balance, can turn a big credit card debt into an enormous one. The card companies only require a minimum monthly payment, but that amount usually only covers the interest and does not repay the original charges. If you’re not careful, you can end up spending the rest of your life paying back credit card debt. There must be a better way.

Change Your Ways

To use your credit card less requires a change in attitude and a change in behavior. First, you have to re-adjust your mindset. Consider credit cards a quick way to pay for something that you will pay for with real money very soon. In other words, if you must use a credit card, make sure you only charge as much as you can repay at the end of each month. You turn the tables on the credit card company by temporarily using their money but not paying them any interest, and you can take advantage of any rewards programs they offer. Just be sure you have the money to pay the bill in full every single time.

Other Ways to Use Your Credit Card Less

A simple behavioral shift will have you using cash instead of credit most of the time. Leave your credit card at home. Keep it for the purchases that must be made with a credit card, but the rest of the time, pay with cash. You will avoid the temptation of mindless spending and unnecessary purchases if you have to come up with the cash to pay for them every time.

Emergency Funds
You should have an emergency fund with enough money in it to cover unexpected expenses. That way you won’t turn to your credit card every time your car needs a battery or the plumbing springs a leak.

Finally, change your overall attitude about spending. You don’t need to keep up with the neighbors or own the latest version of every gadget. Letting go of all that will help both your budget and your peace of mind, and will keep you credit card debt-free.