Stop treat­ing your credit card like a bot­tom­less cookie jar

Debt trap. The only way to truly take con­trol of your life is to stop spend­ing beyond your fi­nan­cial means

Metro Canada (Toronto) - - LIFE - GAIL VAZ-OXLADE Gail blogs daily at gail­va­zoxlade.com

Peo­ple stop me on the street, in the mall, at the su­per­mar­ket to ask me if the peo­ple who ap­peared on my TV shows were real and, by the way, how could they ever get them­selves into so much debt.

It’s eas­ier than most peo­ple think.

A credit card is kind of like a bot­tom­less cookie jar. With easy ac­cess to credit, there’s no rea­son to won­der when the treats will run out, and you are never dis­ap­pointed.

Want a new out­fit? Just stick it on a credit card. Want din­ner with a bunch of friends? Kach­ing, ka-ching. Desperately in need of a sunny va­ca­tion to beat the win­ter blues? There’s room on the card and that’s just what it’s for, right?

When credit be­came a com­mod­ity and lenders started hik­ing lim­its and of­fer­ing in­cen­tives to take on more cards, peo­ple started be­hav­ing like greedy chil­dren, gob­bling cook­ies with­out a thought to the tummy ache that would even­tu­ally follow.

Now, Cana­di­ans think noth­ing of spend­ing more than they make ev­ery year. Hey grown-ups, be­fore you think to chas­tise a child for any­thing, think about your own lack of self-con­trol!

How did we get so much credit? All you needed was a nice, shiny credit score and you could have all the credit you wanted.

Do you know that peo­ple who make only the min­i­mum pay­ment on their credit cards have a bet­ter credit score than those who pay off their bal­ances in full ev­ery month? Why? Be­cause they’re more prof­itable cus­tomers, so they score higher.

Do you want to be some company’s dream cus­tomer, pay­ing gobs of in­ter­est and twist­ing in the wind when the company de­cides to change the rules of the game? Or do you want to be in charge of your money and your life?

Fo­cus­ing on your credit score is a trick, a dis­trac­tion from the real is­sue: You have to learn to live within your means.

Credit cards only serve you when you have the power. Give the power to the cred­i­tor and you’re a pup­pet, jumping and twitch­ing. So, do you want to be some credit card company’s pup­pet? Like the feel­ing of twitch­ing when col­lec­tors call? No? OK then, it’s time to re­take con­trol.

Be­ing in charge means be­ing out of debt. It means pay­ing off your bal­ance in full ev­ery sin­gle month. It means hav­ing only as much credit avail­able as suits your needs.

Liv­ing within your means isn’t as hard as some peo­ple think. Yes, you have to make choices. And yes, you may have to wait a while be­fore you can take that va­ca­tion.

But when you stop treat­ing your cookie jar like it has no bot­tom and start liv­ing within your means, you’ll be in charge.

Some­times there are cook­ies, and some­times not. And if there are no cook­ies for a while, that’s not the end of the world. You just have to get busy bak­ing! WANT TO BE SMARTER ABOUT YOUR MONEY? GO TO MYMONEYMYCHOICES.COM AND FOLLOW THE ROADMAP TO SUC­CESS.

IS­TOCK

Some­times there are cook­ies in life, some­times there are not.

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