Endeavor to Pay with Cash

Credit cards, although great to have in an emergency, are too often used irresponsibly. The 'buy now, pay later' lifestyle is convenient, enticing and, without a doubt, fraught with dangers. In our grandparents' day, the rule of thumb was 'cash, and cash only.' If you couldn't afford it outright, you didn't buy it – and you probably didn't really need it.

The credit culture today a profound effect on virtually every individual and family. Here are some startling statistics: according to the federal government, the total U.S. consumer debt was just under $2.5 trillion for the year 2006-2007, made up mainly credit card debt. At the same time, other sources indicated that over eight percent of American households owed $9,000 or more in credit card debt. Current numbers are doubtless even more alarming.

A major contributor to the problem with credit card debt is that the cards are so easy to obtain. Every day millions of applications are sent to households throughout the nation. People are literally besieged with 'offers,' and mounting debt is the result. The most effective way to alleviate the problem is to pay with cash. If you do have multiple credit cards, there's no time like the present to start paying them off. If you were to add up the interest amounts that you're currently paying, you'd likely be shocked – and time isn't going to make it any better, just worse. So begin now.

What are the advantages of paying with cash? Well, plainly speaking, you'll be forced to buy only what you can afford. No additional debt will be accrued and, generally speaking, you'll be able to live free of the stress and worry about how you're going to afford so many monthly bills.

Once you've made the critical decision not to use your credit cards to create any more new debt, there's still the problem of what to do about the debt that's already been built up. You'll need to deal with it proactively and forcefully. There are a number of ways to accomplish this, but one of the most effective means is a simple debt-repayment plan called the Debt Snowball. With this strategy, you use a structured approach to pay off your highest-interest-rate debt first (because it's piling on the most interest to your balance), then the next-highest, and so on.

Debt, in any form, does absolutely nothing to improve the quality of life (regardless of the convenience of being able to have everything you want right now), but only adds to the emotional angst that one feels when money shortages invariably roll around. Today, with food and gas prices at their highest, it may be rationalized that using credit cards can enable you to keep some cash on hand; but such reasoning is flawed because, eventually, the debt will have to be paid. It would therefore be more prudent to find alternative ways to pay for what we need with cash. Unfortunately, buying with cash is today's exception rather than rule, and we're all paying a higher price because of the short-sightedness.

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