Breaking Up With My Credit Cards
Updated: Jan 3, 2022
It was mid-November 2019 when I came home and told my husband in a very excited voice that I was cutting up our credit cards. He paused as if to process what he just heard, gave me a curious combine with a have she gone crazy look and said “ok” with a country drawl.
Who knows I could have been a little crazy after all, I was little over eight months pregnant and my hormones were raging, but let’s carry on shall we.
How did I come up to this drastic decision?
My husband and I was just completely fed up. It feels as if we were just stuck in place not making any progress financially don’t matter what steps we took. We have had so many conversations talking about our goals along with the action plans on how to reach them but nothing we did brought us any closer. What were we doing wrong? We were both getting frustrated. We live very simple, within or beneath our means. We rarely ate out, we bought things only when there was a need. We had a fully funded emergency fund; we contribute to our retirement accounts. In our eyes we were doing everything that we were supposed to. So why wasn’t out money going further.
Is it too much to ask?
I was tired and over it. We want to live a life where we can do what we want, when we want without money being the deciding factor. But how do we accomplish this? was it even possible? I refuse to accepted our situation so, I set out to find out how we can achieve this goal. As I began to research a reoccurring phase that kept coming up was “debt free.” Being debt free was the key step in obtaining financial freedom. That means paying off all my debt and staying out of debt. I came across an individual name Dave Ramsey which I have never heard about or knew of and after watching countless YouTube videos about his plan and reading numerous blogs about being debt free I felt that the Dave Ramsey plan would be the best plan for us base on its simplicity.
I brought back all that I had learned and shared it with my husband and he said he was willing to try.
Number of credit cards
In our house we have two credit cards. I had one which I got right before I entered college and my husband had one. We did not have any store cards that is something I never did no matter how great the sign-up deal was. As I took out our credit cards and put them on the table and began to reach for the scissors in the draw my husband started firing questions at me in a very concern voice. “What are we going to use when we want to buy things online? What happen if there is an emergency? And how exactly were you going accomplish not using a credit card since we have tried many times before and failed?”
I could see the worried look on his face and of course, these were all legitimate questions. We have been victims of identity theft so I completely understand the fear of using our bank card online but I was completely honest and I told him, “I did not know but we will figure it out.” As for emergencies we would use our emergency fund. After all that is why we have one and we are not going to fail because we have our second child on the way and we cannot keep going the way we have and most importantly we are going to create and stick to a budget. Not only that, you can not use what you don’t have. So, it was a failsafe way to not get in credit card debt again.
After much discussion we decided as a compromise I would cut up my credit card and he would lock his card away. After a year if we are able to live our lives without a credit card, we would cut up his card and close the account. To wish I agree.
I must say I did not expect to have the reaction I had when I cut up my credit card. I mean, what is the big deal. It is just a piece of plastic. But apparently it was much more. As I was cutting up my card, I started to feel a sense of lost and fear and even doubt. This is the only credit card I have ever had. We have been through a lot together. It has gotten me out of a lot of jam it is my safety blanket. It was like ending an unhealthy friendship that you know was necessary but still hurts. We have just outgrown each other and we are heading in different directions.
Our credit cards were my husband biggest pain point. Over the years we have been on a roller coaster ride with our credit cards. The credit card balance will get high, we would then pay it off with money from our emergency fund, say we would only use it if we absolutely have to, only to be right back where we started in a year or so. Wondering what we bought and how come we allow this to happen again. We would then work really hard pinching pennies to build back up our emergency fund and the cycle continues.
After I cut up my card. I called up the credit card company and put the money earn form my points toward my balance which reduce the amount we had to use from our emergency fund to pay off the balance.
Why Use Our Emergency Fund?
Now some may say why would I use my emergency fund. Suppose something happen and I need it. let me tell you prayer works. We prayed daily and we had some money left over. Not enough to feel a hundred percent comfortable but it was risk we were willing to take to get to where we want to go.
By paying off the credit card we were able to jump start our debt snowball and after two months of budgeting, I began to see money materialize. The monthly payment I use to make on my credit card I rolled it into my other payments allowing me to pay off my other debts faster.
Now I know some may rather pay monthly credit card bills instead of touching their emergency fund for fear of not being able to cover an emergency should it arise, and I can understand that. However, let’s be real, if something serious should happen that affected my paycheck, the last thing I would be thinking of doing is paying my creditors. I would be in survival mode. My focus would be, putting food on my table, keeping a roof over my family’s head and so forth.
Paying off this debt and my other debts allow me to keep more of my hard earn money and eliminate the risk of my creditors coming after me should my income be impacted or my interest rates jumping up due to lack of payment.
Surprising Out come
It has been three years now. We have not used our credit cards, we live on a budget, we are debt free outside of our mortgage and I cannot wait for that payment to end as well. We are now living with a peace that is worth more than gold. With that said I am not saying the road was easy. In the beginning as I was learning to budget and live a life without the backup of a credit card, I would go shopping only to go to register and realize I did not have enough money. The difference now was that in the past I would pay the difference with the credit card now I just don’t buy it. I have become a savvier shopper as a result and I am more informed of where my money is going. I know how much money we spend on grocery per month as well as the month when there will be an increase. I coupon, I check circulars and my family is able to do activities and vacation without worrying about how we are going to come up with the money, because we plan and save.