Four Naughty Credit Cards Spending Habits You Need To Fix

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It is common knowledge that Santa Claus is making a list and checking it twice,  that he’s gonna find out who’s naughty and nice.

But that’s just for kids.  Adults get into all sorts of mischief without the benefit of a jolly old elf to check in on them.

Perhaps the biggest mischief adults get into is credit card debt.  While this might not seem as exciting as putting a frog in a classmate’s desk, the repercussions are much more profound. “Many of our customers come to us because they are at their wit’s end with credit card debt, and they need to find a better card with lower interest or better cash-back rewards to bring their spending back into balance,” says Chris Mettler of the popular credit card comparison website CompareCards.com.

Naughty spending habits come in various forms.  Sometimes it is simply spending too much, other times it is spending on the wrong things

Here are some of the top naughty spending habits that you might want to break now.

Shopping to lift your mood.

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This is a bad one.  In fact, it’s not just pulling out their credit cards (or “retail therapy”, as it is sometimes called) that people do to lift their moods.  Some people smoke whenever they get stressed or feel low.  Others drink, which can lead to even bigger problems.  Other eat (and overeat), and we all know where that leads.

While overeating, alcohol and smoking are all bad for your health, they are also horrible for your pocketbook.  Whether you try to lift your mood by shopping for shoes or dresses or power drills, or you seek comfort in pastries or drinks, the financial result is the same : more debt to bring down your mood.

Much better to lift your mood through music or exercise.  Yes, just go for a walk or a run to boost your mood.  Play some uplifting or energetic music.  Get pumped up rather than spiralling down in debt.

Spending more than you make.

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This is the mathematician’s truism.  If you spend more than you make, you will be in debt.  Each time you spend more than you make, you get further in debt.  The only solution to this is to spend less on things you don’t need or make more money (which could be the subject for dozens more articles).  The easier option is to simply spend less. 

Draw up a budget.  Start with how much you make, and remove from that all the automated payments and expenses you don’t have a choice about.  What you are left with is discretionary spending, including emergency expenses, like when your car breaks down or you need to call a plumber.

Carrying a credit card balance.

Credit cards cost money…but only when you carry a balance.  When you don’t carry a balance, any credit card with a reward actually makes you money.  So what to do about the balance?  Pay it off in full every month.  Before deciding to take that weekend trip to Paris, first pay off the balance.  If you don’t, you’ll be skipping more than one weekend getaway in the years ahead.

Impulse buying.

How many times have you come home from the store with twice as many items as you had on your list?  That means your credit card is bearing twice as much weight as planned, and it is probably not necessities that you purchased.  Impulse spending adds up to huge amounts of debt that ultimately can drain your finances in a big way.

Furthermore, if that impulse spending was at a food store, chances are it was on high-sugar, high-fat, low-nutrition and high-calorie “foods”  that you really would rather have left behind once you feel their effects.

Always shop with a list and be determined to stick to it.  Break this rule under only one circumstance: when a consumable (such as food or cleaning products) is on a very good sale.  In such cases, if you absolutely know you regularly use the product, buy several of them while on special.  If you use the product regularly, it will save you money.  If you don’t, chances are it will simply cost you money.

The Bottom Line

People spend too much for many reasons, and for the most part the same spending habits repeat themselves.  If you can identify those habits, you can fix the problem.

Santa isn’t making a list for you, so hopefully this list will help.  If you can avoid these naughty credit card spending habits, your bank account will be better for it.  And in some cases, so will your health.

Featured images:
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Justin Black is a freelance writer who covers personal finance, health and life planning issues.  He grew up on the Atlantic Seaboard, an average child in an average home and got an average education.  He has a wife and two children, who he hopes will make smart choices about their futures.

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