Credit cards are a funny thing. They are a financial product that can be your best friend or your worst enemy. When I could pull out my credit card and pay for anything I wanted I loved my credit card. When I was over $50k in debt, working three jobs to pay off the balances I hated my credit cards every single day. When I paid off all my credit cards I loved the feeling of being debt free but I was scared to even pull out my credit card, let alone use it. To say I have been on a credit card rollercoaster is an understatement.
Here’s how to deal with the emotional stress of being in credit card debt:
Don’t let caught up in the happiness
Being happy is great, as long as the bliss is genuine and not bought with material items. Sometimes people get so caught up in the euphoric state of happiness that they want to do more of whatever it is that’s making them happy. In this case that is spending money.
When using your credit cards set spending limitations so you don’t allow your debt to get out of control. Use your credit card for specific purchases such as big ticket items or your weekly groceries. If spending is a problem, don’t use it for everyday purchases.
Let sadness only be temporary
Debt is consuming in every single way. It takes all your money, your thoughts and your emotion. Living through financial struggles can be completely demoralizing and that’s sad. It’s sad that you can’t afford to spend time with your friends, it’s sad that you don’t have the money to go on vacation and it’s sad that some nights you go to bed hungry. But you know what, it’s all temporary.
It’s O.K. to be sad temporarily but then you need to snap out of it. Look at your outstanding balances versus your income and other expenses and figure out how long it’s going to take you to pay off your debt. If that time period is too long then cut your expenses or earn more income and pay off your debt sooner. In order to do this you need to be focused and for that you can’t be sad.
It’s O.K. to be angry
When I was in debt, actually when I realized how out of control my debt was, anger was the best emotion. I couldn’t believe I let my debt get so bad and I was disappointed in myself with all the choices I made. I was mad at myself and at times I hated myself. The only way to get out of this mental state was to make changes so that’s exactly what I did.
When I checked my credit score and saw how much damage my irresponsible behavior was having on my life, I was angry and anger is an emotion that requires action. You need to take action to let out your frustration and you need to take action so the thing you’re angry with stops bothering you. In this case it was my debt. I started paying off my debt and stopped hating myself.
Don’t always be afraid of debt
If your spending is out of control maybe you should get in the mindset of being afraid of your credit card and stop spending cold turkey, but that’s only in extreme cases where your money habits may need a major makeover.
Installing fear in yourself can add a little discipline into your money routine, so if that’s what you need then so be it.