Goin’ Commando With Credit

commando credit debtIf you ever ask me about how to get out of debt, I have a variety of answers, depending on the situation. Probably the number one answer I give is “spend less than you make”. When you start asking more questions about how to get started, I’ll usually tell you that the first step is to cut up your credit cards.

You just don’t need them.

They only serve as a drag on your financial situation.

When you use a credit card to make purchases, it’s too easy to spend money without thinking about it, because swiping a card doesn’t feel like spending real money.

It’s so easy that studies have proven that when you use a credit card, you spend an average of 12% more on each transaction. That doesn’t even include the interest and fees that are incurred when you don’t pay off the balance every month.

When I tell most people that they just don’t need credit cards for anything, they look at me like I have suddenly lost my mind.

They just don’t get it.

Our culture has become so habituated to using credit that most people sincerely believe you can’t live a normal life without it.

I guess that’s actually true, because if you’re not a regular user of credit these days, you’re definitely not normal.

Most people, if they had no credit cards, would feel “naked”.

They start asking themselves “What happens if I have an emergency?” and “How will I pay for gas?”

That “naked” feeling, that fear of being exposed and unprotected, is just as strong as the actual fear of being naked in public.

I like to compare the feeling of going naked with credit with an episode of the TV show “Seinfeld”.

In that episode, Jerry’s crazy neighbor, Cosmo Kramer, decides he’s going to go “commando”.

Of course the news is shocking, it’s not the norm.

But Kramer knows better.

Going commando, according to Kramer, is very liberating.

When Jerry and Elaine wonder out loud about his unusual choice, he blurts “I’m out there Jerry and I’m lovin’ it!” (Watch the video)

And that’s exactly what happens when you stop using credit to finance your lifestyle. Sure, it feels kinda strange at first, because it’s not normal.

But when you give yourself over to a new mindset, then act upon it, it truly is a liberating feeling.

Many of your friends and family will second guess your choice and wonder how you could do something so strange. It makes them uncomfortable because you’re being different, and it shows.

Normal feels more safe.

But different is where all the good stuff happens.

But you realize that getting rid of credit and debt is very freeing, liberating you from the financial tightie whities that have been holding you back all this time.

You’re out there.

You’re lovin’ it.

You’re becoming debt free.

ACTION STEP: Make the commitment to “go commando” and get out of debt. Cut up your credit cards, build a basic emergency fund.

QUESTION: Are you bound by the tightie whities of debt? Have you decided to go all in and get out of debt?

Please leave a comment.

Resources:

How Do You Get Out of Debt? (Part 1)- Get Mad and Naked

The 20 Best Ways to Use Your Credit Cards Wisely

You Don’t Need a Credit Score- Here’s an Alternative

Are You Paralyzed With Fear Because You’re In Debt?

Eliminate Debt Forever By Telling Yourself a Different Story

6 Credit Card Lies We Believe

This is Why You Overspend

Debt and Deeper Issues

About Dr. Jason Cabler

6 Responses to “Goin’ Commando With Credit”

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  1. Unhappy with both boxers and briefs, Kramer elected to go sans underwear, and that’s what he was lovin’ every minute of! I agree with you–like Kramer, one never knows just how liberating trying something new–like giving up credit cards–will feel without trying it, at least for a while. I do have one credit card, but I use it maybe a half-dozen times a year plus at the gas pump. Cash works well for me!

    • Cash is king, in my opinion. If more people would just try it, they would realize it’s so much better than messing with credit cards. It’s not as easy to overspend and get yourself in trouble financially.

  2. Daniel says:

    I got my first credit card in college (circa 2004) and have lived in a debt cycle since. I watched my parents be slaves to credit cards most of my life and I didn’t learn anything from it. I just kept thinking that big raise was just around the corner and when it arrived, I’d wipe out all the evidence of my poor spending habits (aka, credit card debt, car loan, 401(k) loan, student loan) and never look back. Unfortunately, after 7 years in the real world I figured out that’s not how it works. My wife came to me in January and told me she was pregnant. After 2-3 months of initial shock wore off (this was very much unplanned) I decided it was time to get serious. I couldn’t pass on my poor spending habits to a new generation. It was time to live on cash / debit card and make good choices. I knew I was making a poor decision each time I used those cards and I just didn’t care at the time. I was having fun spending the fake money.

    Now it’s time to pay the toll for my bad decisions. After reading a book entitled “The Power of Habit,” I adopted a plan to spend less by creating a reasonable budget. This budget created a goal for me to achieve each month which turned the process into a “game.” Each month I stay within my budget goals I feel a sense of satisfaction and freedom from my prior affliction. I’m only 3 months into a 20 month journey but I’m beginning to feel the “liberation” you mentioned above.

    Each day brings new challenges but so far, I haven’t found any reason one would “need” a credit card, as I previously believed. I think your article is spot-on and I’m also a huge Seinfeld fan so double points for that reference!

    • Great story Daniel! That’s what it takes to change your life for the better. You just have to realize that there is a better way, and that what everyone else is doing is not always the best way.

      20 months is not an incredibly long time to get yourself out of debt. I’m confident you can do it and “go commando” for the rest of your life. I’ve been doing it for the better part of a decade now and I would never go back.

      The great sage Seinfeld has a lot to teach us. Maybe I should do more posts with that theme…

  3. Jason, excellent post! I also love Daniel’s story above. We too are from a long line of irresponsible spenders and have decided that the cycle stops here. We are used to being “abnormal” and loving it!

  4. Abnormal is where it’s at baby!!!

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