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Life after Swearing off Credit Cards

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Credit cards provide a true convenience and a financial freedom unlike most others. Unfortunately, if we aren’t careful in our spending, that so-called financial freedom soon becomes the very shackle that chains us to life-altering debt.

It’s important to know the risks and temptations of spending with credit cards, especially if you tend to be impulsive in nature. Credit cards afford so many valuable conveniences and freedoms in life. If we get too carried away, though, it is easy to see just how quickly debt can add up.

Sometimes when people find difficulty controlling their spending, or when they’ve had a bad experience with debt in the past, it makes sense to avoid credit cards for a while. A 24-year-old public relations professional in New York City kindly shares the following responses in a Q&A about giving up credit cards.

Q – What sparked you to swear off credit cards?
A – To be completely honest, when I know that with the swipe of a card I can have something – I don’t think, I just swipe. It’s an embarrassing lack of self-control, but after racking up some minimal debt in college I thought, “I’m the kind of person who could get into serious trouble with credit cards – best to nip this in the bud now.”

Q – How has the experience gone so far?
A – It’s gone well. I still have on credit card that I keep in a safe place for emergencies and to maintain a credit score, but I rarely use it. I have had a couple of slip-ups, though, where I’ve gone to its hideaway in a moment of weakness and made a purchase that I couldn’t really afford to make.  

Q – Is there anything you miss about credit cards?
A – I actually feel less stressed knowing that I’m not spending any money that I don’t have. When I have even the slightest amount of debt it worries me constantly. The idea of an interest-free life is liberating!

Q – What challenges do you face without having a credit card?
A – Online ordering is tough. Living within my means can be a challenge, ha. Other than that – I rarely have any issues, as most retailers are happy to receive cash.  

Q – Do you run into problems shopping online, booking hotels, flights or travel arrangements, etc.?
A – Yes.

Q – If you don’t use a credit card, how do you pay for things – cash, check, gift card, debit card, etc.?
A – Cash. I also don’t have a debit card. My ATM card is strictly for taking out cash and does not have a credit / debit function.
â¨Q – Do you think you will ever get a credit card again?
A – Yes.  

Q – What advice can you share for others, knowing what you do about both sides – using and avoiding credit cards?
A – Know your personal limits – I can admit that if I have a credit card I’ll spend money I don’t have. If you’re like me (and I know I’m not the only one!), I really advise avoiding debt and stress by eliminating the opportunity to spend beyond your means.

Q – Do you have any concerns about building credit or have you found ways around that?
A – As mentioned above, I do have a credit card that I use for emergencies / to maintain a good credit score. I also have corporate credit card that is in my name that I *only* use for business expenses and which I always pay on time and in full. This helps me build / maintain good credit.  
â¨Q – Does living in NYC make it easier or more difficult to shop without credit cards?
A – I think it makes it easier – there’s hardly a need for me to shop online as you can find almost anything in this city.

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