5 Ways To Not Use Your Credit Cards

These tips are for those who are having trouble controlling their credit card spending but do not want to cancel their credit cards. (Cancelling your credit cards can lower your credit score and reduces your leverage if you need to negotiate with the credit card company.)

  1. Don’t carry your cards-If you have to return home and grab your credit card before you make a purchase it should give you time to reflect on whether you really need to make that purchase. I only carry my credit card(s) if I’m traveling or am going to use it for a specific purchase. I’ve found this method very effective in reducing impulse purchases.
  2. Freeze your cards-This is an old trick. Just put your cards in a large plastic bowl or glass filled with water and place it in the freezer. Since it will take a while to thaw you’ll have plenty of time to think about your potential purchase.
  3. Give away your cards-Give your cards to a trusted friend or relative. Having to ask for your card back and possibly explain what you are purchasing should make you think twice before making an impulsive purchase.
  4. Cut up your cards-With your cards cut up you shouldn’t be able to use them, except possibly online. Once you’re confident that you can control your spending you can ask for a replacement card.
  5. Wrap up your cards-Wrap your cards up in a piece of paper like a birthday present. As an added measure write a financial goal on the outside of the paper.

Bonus method-This method is probably not a good idea for those who are having trouble controlling their controlling their credit card spending. Put a large 0% balance transfer on your card. You won’t want to make a purchase after that because you will usually have to pay off your entire 0% balance before you can pay off the purchase and stop the interest charges.

I’ve used a couple of these methods and found them very helpful. If anyone has any other suggestions let me know and I’ll add them to the list.

I'm Frugal, So Why Am I Poor? Part 1

This is a question I’ve been asking myself lately. I’ve been frugal all my life. My mother was frugal when I was growing up. She grew up poor and then she had to support me and my sister on minimum wage while rarely receiving child support. She was frugal by necessity then but she stayed that way even when her financial situation improved. Frugality is a trait that I acquired from her.

I’ve come up with three reasons why I am poor even though I am frugal. The first reason is that I haven’t made much money in my life. I’ve probably had over 100 jobs in my adult life and the large majority of them were low paying. Even when I had a good paying job it didn’t matter because I never stayed at the job very long. My pattern was to work for a while,save up money,then quit and live off my savings. When my savings ran out then I would just start the pattern all over again. This has allowed me to travel and do some things I wouldn’t have been able to do if I just had a two week vacation every year. Although if I had been a little more patient I probably could have traveled without depleting my savings.

I’ve never liked working much though. My mom is a hard worker but somehow I didn’t acquire that trait. That is nobody’s fault but my own of course. Since I’m turning 40 this year I don’t have much time to fix this problem. To fix this problem I’m going to have to find a good paying job and stick with it. I’m making it a goal this year. That would fix the first reason why I’m still poor. I’ll detail the other two reasons in later posts.

Challenge Preparations

I went shopping yesterday and bought the following items as part of plan to eat on only $30 for the month of February. The price by each item is an approximate price, the total price is the actual money spent.

  • 5 packages Oatmeal (18 oz.) $2.00
  • 1 loaf white bread $0.65
  • 1 jar peanut butter (18 oz.) $1.29
  • 1 jar grape jelly $1.00
  • 12 cans of corn $4.00
  • 8 bananas $0.80
  • 1 box pancake mix $1.00
  • 1 bottle syrup $1.00
  • 1 package margarine $0.50
  • 1 package mac & cheese $0.30
  • 10 packages ramen $1.00

My actual total amount spent is $14.34. I got a really good deal on the oatmeal. They were on sale for $1.00 each and I had coupon for $3.00 off any 5 Quaker products. This gives me a month of breakfasts for just over $2.00.

I’ve already spent over half my budget but I think I have more than a half month’s of food. The ramen and white bread are not the healthiest choices but they are cheap. I won’t be buying any more ramen. I might buy wheat bread next time but it is about double the price if you get actual whole wheat bread. I’ll be posting my meals daily if you want to see what my meals are.

One Month Challenge Mash-Up

I have been lazy and lacking self-discipline lately and I have decided that it is time to change. I have set several goals or challenges for myself to accomplish in February. The resulting challenge takes some of Steve Pavlina’s 30 days to success, The Simple Dollar’s One Month Challenge, Maggie Wang’s Cheapass Challenge, and the idea of Hungry For a Month and mashes them up.

For the Simple Dollar‘s One Month Challenge I need to keep track of everything I spend in February and ask myself whether it was neccessary or not. This shouldn’t be a problem for me because I already keep track of all my expenses. To make it more challenging I am going to try to keep my expense total as small as possible.

The idea of Hungry For a Month is to spend only $30 on food for an entire month. I have already purchased some items but they will be coming off my $30 total. Ketchup, mustard, salt, etc. will not count against the total because they are freely available to most persons. There is an opportunity to get free pizza or other meals at my school fairly often but I won’t be eating them because I don’t think the average person has these free meals available.

From Maggie Wang‘s Cheapass Challenge I will be doing the exercises from Body-For-Life. I can’t incorporate the food portion of the challenge due to my $30 limit. I am going to try to eat as healthy as possible within that limit. There will be at least one serving each of fruit and vegetables in my daily diet. That might not sound like much but it is better than I eat now.

The idea of Steve Pavlina’s 30 days to success is that you can establish a new habit in 30 days. While I don’t want to make eating on $30 a month a habit I can make eating less a habit. Exercising regularly is another habit I want to establish.

That is the basics of my one month challenge mash-up. I’d like to hear any ideas people have on how to meet this challenge. Any ideas on how to eat healthy and cheap would be especially appreciated.

My Monthly Expenses

Here is a list of my monthly expenses to give you an idea how I spend my money.

December 2006 Expenses

Car expenses 85.43
Household 549.28
Food 79.71
Entertainment 8.82
Books 87.76

Total $811

This was a slightly lower than normal total. My food expense was lower because I stayed at my mom’s for over a week for Christmas. That also caused my entertainment expense to be lower than normal. My car expenses included gas and a $25 parking ticket. Household expenses included my $435 rent plus gas, electric, and miscellaneous including Christmas gifts. Books were for school so that isn’t an expense I have every month but there is usually some large non-monthly expense every month.

This shows one can live on very little money if they have to. And I also don’t feel that I was deprived of anything I really wanted.