Have you ever opened a credit card bill and wondered how you could have spent that much money in one month, or had an Amazon box delivered to your front door and forgot what you ordered? That was us last month, and we decided we had to put a stop to the spending madness.
My husband Doug and I are two weeks into doing a “30-day Credit Cleanse” after getting a staggering credit card bill (seriously, how could we have spent that much money in one month?). Being on a “30-day Credit Cleanse” means we must pay cash for everything we buy – no credit or debit cards!!! It’s amazing how having to pay cash for something changes your behavior. I’ll explain in a minute, but first I’ll show you what the plan looks like.
- Hold a meeting, map out and agree on your plan – (this was good for us – both agreed, Houston we have a problem!!!!)
- Empty your wallets – (we both pulled all the plastic out of our wallets – if you don’t have it with you, you can’t use it)
- Put all the cards in a central location – (grabbed a Ziploc bag, put all the cards in it along with a copy of last month’s excessive credit card statement, so if we are tempted to reach for the cards we will remember why we are doing this)
- Divvy up some cash – *see ideas below (we each started with $500 in various bills)
- Establish a “credit purchase” envelope – (realistically we may have to use a credit card for something like an online purchase – if we do, we must pull cash out of our wallet and put it in the envelope)
- Bonus: Write down everything you spend – keep an envelope with you to log your purchases and keep your receipts so you can track where your money went
Dealing in cold hard cash is hard to beat when it comes to connecting with your finances. Being on a “credit cleanse” is resulting in a “cash diet”. I don’t want to part with my cash; I don’t want to have to write it down! I’m thinking twice about buying stuff, even calling my husband and asking if we REALLY need something from the store. I’m planning my errands and thinking about how many hours we must work to pay for something. Doug came home the other day and said, “Now I know where all the money goes: $80 event tickets, a $40 oil change and $50 on dinner… that’s almost $200 in one day!”
Using credit cards is way too easy; sometimes it doesn’t even feel like you are spending money. Plastic is convenient, it can be a strategic financial tool, and yes, credit cards have their place, but it never hurts to have an occasional reality check. At least this little exercise has been good for us; so far it’s kept us in line, reminded us not to play the “but I earn rewards” game, and has helped us feel the impact of spending each dollar we worked so hard to earn. We might just keep it up for a few months to see how much money we can save….
I’d love to hear what you think! Do you like the idea? Are you going to try it? If you have, what was your experience like?
*If you are looking for ways to come up with some cash to start a “credit cleanse”, pay for vacation or whatever, here are a few to get you started.
- Collect all the loose change lying around the house and host a coin rolling party (we did this over the weekend and came up with $93 bucks!)
- Have a yard-sale (the last time we did a friends and family yard-sale we raised over $100)
- Sell stuff on Craigslist (be sure to price it right and be careful when someone comes over to pick stuff up)
- Take in your recycling (just did this too – $30)
- Sell old electronics (cell phones, video games, etc.)