Back in the 50’s and 60’s, credit cards were pretty much unheard of outside of the business world. If you didn’t have the money for something, you simply did without. Fast forward to the present, and things are quite different. Navigating today’s America without a credit card is nearly impossible, and unfortunately, that’s led to an epidemic of credit card debt.
If you’re one of those living under the shadow of a constantly cresting wave of debt, it may be time to admit to yourself that you have a credit card addiction. Not everyone with credit card debt has an addiction to them, but if the following indicators apply to you, you could have a dependence.
Communication is key to any relationship, and one of the core signs of credit card addiction is hiding your spending from your partner or spouse. Hiding your spending is a sign that you, on some level, know that you shouldn’t be spending as much as you are. If you catch yourself hiding credit card statements from your partner, then it might be time to come clean and admit you might have a problem.
Ideally, you should pay your cards off in full at the end of each month. If you find that month after month you're only able to make the minimum payment for each card, then it’s time to step back and look at your spending habits.
Just like the point above, if you keep opening new cards while you still owe on cards you already have, that’s a bad sign. Continuously opening new credit cards is an unsustainable behavior, and at some point, companies will stop offering you cards, at which point the consequences will quickly catch up to you.
Paying off one credit card with another one that has a lower interest rate isn’t a bad strategy: on the contrary, it’s a great way of saving money. But it’s also a sure sign that your spending is getting out of control. Remember, ideally, you should never have debt on your card by the end of the month, regardless of what the interest rate is.
After a rough week, do you look forward to shopping on the weekend? A lot of us do. But if you’re using shopping as a stress reliever, then a credit card can quickly become an enabler, a source of seemingly endless cash. A negative feedback loop can even begin to form, where you shop away the stress that comes from being in debt, even though you’re only digging yourself in deeper.
Do you find yourself making buying decisions on the spur of the moment? Impulsive spending is a strong sign that you’re on the way to credit card addiction. Credit cards make it feel like you have enough money for anything, and disconnect you from the reality of spending money. The truth is that while it may be down the road, you will have to pay back those expenses at some point.
Online shopping is convenient, but can also slowly wear away your impulse control. Online companies make billions each year by making it easier and easier for you to find exactly what you want and putting it just a click away. And being constantly surrounded by things you want to buy will slowly wear away at you until you hit that buy button.
This is the culmination of the two points above. Both can lead to buying things that end up going unused. Maybe it’s a state of the art grill that only gets fired up once a year or a gadget that immediately loses its novelty. If you have the cash, spending money on things that go unused is excusable: it’s your money, after all. But when that money comes from your credit card it’s a completely different dynamic.
This has become a cliché when it comes to addiction, but that doesn’t make it any less true. None of like to think we’re addicted to anything, because that’s something that happens to other people, right? But when you find your credit card debt beginning to mount or you’re looking for a title loan to cover your payments, you owe it to yourself to take an honest look at your behaviors to determine if your behavior is out of control.