I’ve been very fortunate that my salary has increased in the time I have been doing this credit card ban because I don’t think I would have kept up with it, or this would have been a different type of post altogether! Now, instead of making purchases on the credit card, I just put them on my debit card. Knowing that I could cover the cost in my checking account, I would just spend the same amount. It’s a bit lifestyle inflation. This is not a great takeaway! What have I actually learned??
Debit by Default
My debit card is the default card. That was the first, and perhaps most obvious, new rule that I had to follow. I was pretty good about checking my accounts so I knew that I had to be on top of my bank to see exactly where my money was going. This is not a great takeaway, but now that I wasn’t using the card, I just made all my usual purchases with my debit card instead. However, because of my debit by default, I was more aware than ever about my past spending and my current spending going in and out. This was made all the more clear every time I would buy lunch instead of bring lunch, or when I would go out to eat frequently.
Keep Impulse Purchases Under Control
When I was using my credit card, all too often it would be on impulse purchases, especially online shopping. When I stopped using my credit card, all my previous impulse purchases were now on my debit card so I was much more careful about going out shopping after work or picking up random bits at my trips to Target. I don’t want it to seem that I never made impulse purchases, but I definitely questioned my purchases more.
FOMO Isn’t Real
Fear of Missing Out is a phenomena and one that I am particularly susceptible to! I follow a NYC Instagram called “FOMOFeed” and it had convinced me that I needed to go to random popups or art installations in NYC. A lot of the time these things are free and fun to see, but other times they are ticketed! But FOMO in my actual real life can take the form of other things. My friends would suggest want to go out for drinks, brunch, or do another casual, but requires money, activity. Even going to see Hamilton or a day trip out of town went on the card. The FOMO would kick in with my brain and I would feel that I HAD TO go to these things, but if it’s not a birthday or some other major event, I tried to weigh the pros and cons of spending the money. It took some time for me to come to terms with understanding the thought process behind why I wanted to spend money. Most likely I wasn’t actually missing out on anything.
The major takeaway here is that I am more aware of where my money is and how it is doing at any given moment. I impulse shop less, and when I do shop it’s with intention. Using a credit card when I didn’t have the cash on hand was a hard habit to break, but with careful attention, I was able to change my habits. Even one year later, I still think of using my credit card for spending on high priced things (like travel) or in the event of an emergency, but I have to remember that I have saved money for these specific issues so I don’t need to use the card. It’s a constant internal conversation.