The question is why do we do it? The answer is simple, because it is too easy! I like to think of carrying around a credit card in your wallet that you allow yourself to use, like putting yourself in a room full of all your favorite junk food and expecting yourself not to eat it. You are basically setting yourself up for failure! The credit card companies know this, which is why they make profits.
Why put yourself in a situation that you know isn’t good for you? Often in life doing what is right starts with keeping yourself out of bad situations in the first place, which can lead you down roads you don’t want to go. Set yourself up for success, not failure!
If you recall my article Why Planning Ahead (with your finances) Pays Off, I was someone who thought because I spend lots of time planning our finances and keeping careful track, and we have family all over the country that we like to visit, why shouldn’t I earn air miles while purchasing our regular necessities to help with the cost of flights?
Things started out OK and quickly went downhill from there. I had all the skills I needed to do this successfully, but I put myself in a situation where I was set up to fail. It was too easy to spend, and even more importantly too easy to get lazy about it. Instead of writing down my purchases daily because I only had an allotted amount of money in my checking’s account to spend and didn’t want my transactions to be denied, I started to write it down less and less frequently. When I sat down at the end of the week, or the end of two weeks, and went through my purchases I realized how quickly you forget the purchase at Walmart you made two days ago, or the extra stop at the grocery store. The amount of money I thought I had left to spend and the actual amount I had were way off. Spending over my budget was so easy to do because I wasn’t paying with cash, I was paying with credit.
After a while the overspending got to me. My saving grace was that I didn’t grow up thinking it was OK so it never sat well with me. I stopped using my credit card, worked on paying the balance off, and cancelled the card. Time went by and I got back on the right track again.
Even more time went by, things were going well, and I was back to diligently taking care of my finances. I thought I had it down. Wouldn’t you know another great card came my way, so once again I thought I could handle it, but that this time I just needed to be more careful! Sure enough like hitting your head against a wall AGAIN, I did basically the same thing over.
Looking back it was never lavish purchases like exotic vacations or expensive cloths, it was regular everyday purchases on normal items, but when you’re spending more than you have budgeted it adds up quick. I was putting myself in a situation where I was set up to fail, like surrounding myself with junk food and expecting not to eat it. The lesson I learned was that using a credit card regularly for me is not a good idea. It is not for most of us. Yes, some can do it successfully but the majority of us cannot or there wouldn’t be so much personal debt, and not enough savings.
Put yourself in the right situations, keep yourself out of the bad, and you will go far! The sky really is the limit when you stay conscious of what you are doing, and take the time to learn from the mistakes you have made.
Set yourself up for financial success! I know firsthand it is never too late to change directions if you have gone off track. Take it one step at a time so that you don’t get overwhelmed.