5. Go public
You don’t have to share the details of your entire financial picture, but it does help to declare your intentions to turn over a new financial leaf. When you’re trying to change any habit, getting close friends and family on board helps avoid awkward situations, motivates you toward your goal, and gives you a support network that you can be accountable to. Besides the encouragement they offer, your friends and family just may be inspired to make some financial changes of their own.
6. Track your success
Monitoring your efforts to phase out daily credit card use and taking a moment to reflect on your success is the ultimate motivator. Take a look at your dwindling credit card balances as each shrinks from a combination of bigger payments and fewer new charges. Understand exactly what that means: less money wasted in interest charges and fees, less stress, movement toward a healthier credit score, and greater financial freedom.
7. Reward your progress
Rewarding yourself along the way not only reinforces the changes you’ve made, but the wisdom of your decision, too. As you reach each marker that you’ve set for yourself — seven days without using a card, 30 days card-free, an old balance paid off, etc. — celebrate your success with a small reward. Enjoy a lunch out (cash only, remember), a small splurge, or just bask in the enjoyment of achieving what you set out to do.
Easy credit, the tendency to overspend, and the overwhelming acceptance of plastic as a means to pay for everything from home repairs to hamburgers have helped make consumer indebtedness a chronic condition for many in this country. Any movement against the tide is nearly a subversive act, but one that’s essential for genuine financial stability. As you chart a new course for yourself with spending and credit, stay focused on the reasons that first inspired you and the future savings that will propel you toward your next financial goals.