| May 8, 2012

Wean yourself off excessive credit card spending

Many consumers get to a point in their spending when they realize they may be amassing more credit card debt than they can afford to pay off. And it's this point when it can be beneficial for individuals to start weaning themselves off making purchases with their credit cards and avoid running up an even higher balance. This can be difficult when consumers are accustomed to swiping their cards each time they want to buy groceries or gas.

However, there are several ways consumers can begin relying less on their credit cards and take more control of their balances, and most Americans are already doing so. A recent study conducted by stock research firm Five Star Equities reveals credit card spending declined by $5 billion during the first two months of 2012. The group explains that the recent financial recession, coupled with uncertainty over the recovery of the U.S. economy, has prompted many consumers to save more money and spend less on their credit cards.

There are several time-tested measures individuals can take to curb their credit card spending while they reclaim their good financial standing. First, consumers should start paying with cash. Studies have shown that Americans are less likely to part with their money to make unnecessary purchases if they see the money physically leaving their wallets. When consumers see the money leaving their pockets, rather than credit card accounts, they may think harder about certain purchases and save more.

Consumers can also avoid impulse buys by leaving their credit cards at home. Getting into the habit of carrying cash or debit cards to purchase groceries, gas or pick up a birthday gift can help individuals stay in line with their budgets. This method can be especially useful during the holiday season when consumers tend to spend more than they previously budgeted for.

Lastly, individuals can reorganize their budgets each month to make extra payments toward their credit card bills to pay down the balance more quickly. When consumers see the amount they owe start to decline, it may be incentive enough to stay on the path toward responsible credit behavior. Individuals should remember that even small additional payments of $25 or so can help chip away at interest and lower their balances.

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