If you are taking steps to becoming debt-free, then chances are you are trying living without a credit card. One of the assumptions that can serve as a barrier to adjusting to a cash lifestyle is the belief that you need a credit card simply to function in a highly digital society. While it is true credit cards offer a number of conveniences, they aren’t the only option.
“The very best way to avoid a debt problem is to avoid taking debt out in the first place, pure and simple,” Jeff Schwartz, executive director, Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada.
“What that means is living without a credit card by setting up your lifestyle to use cash only. Not only will that help you spend within your means, it will also help you shift your focus when you make a purchase. Many people commonly think that you must have a credit card in order to book things like travel or to shop online. There are a number of other options out there that will let you have many of the same conveniences that credit provides, without a growing balance digging you deeper into debt,” says Schwartz.
Here are a few tips on living without a credit card:
Credit is not free money
While you may feel like you are sacrificing by not using a credit card, you are actually taking physical steps to set yourself up for financial success. Not only is this your best bet to spending within your means, it will actually help change your attitude towards spending and instant gratification.
When you purchase something on credit, your immediate focus is on getting what you want. If you are using cash, your immediate focus will be on the cost. That shift in attitude can have a major impact on your financial picture.
Shop- but stop
Do you like the convenience of being able to do your shopping online? Or maybe you’d rather not carry loads of cash in your wallet. Many stores will now accept debit online. You can also buy prepaid cards, which will give you much of the same usage opportunity as traditional credit, but on a set budget.
Gift cards aren’t just for giving to others. What about buying gift cards for stores you will be shopping at (e.g. even for groceries) in cash?
Write a cheque
While cheques are becoming less popular with the evolution of digital spending, they serve a purpose in balancing your budget. You may not be able to use cheques as widely at stores, but there are some expenses where cheques are accepted (e.g. paying your utility bills). It’s worth investigating.
Keep your cards
Let’s say that you still have a credit card in circulation. You can leave that open, but actually remove it from your wallet. You can always lower your limit to what you would be able to pay every month.
Another option is to get a secured credit card with a lower limit. You can keep it for emergency use (e.g. if you encounter somewhere that won’t accept debit or prepaid credit cards).
Are you trying to make lifestyle changes to get rid of your debt? To make a change that sticks you’ve got to change your method of payment and how much you spend. We can help get the ball rolling for you. Call one of our trained credit counsellors at or visit our free online debt analysis.