It’s always easier to other people’s problems than our own. Especially when it comes to things like addiction, what may be easy to spot in someone else is opaque when we look at ourselves. And unfortunately, it’s often only obvious once it’s too late to do anything about it.
One of the most common addictions in America today is one that’s been so normalized that most people never even notice it: credit card addiction. Credit card spending is an insidious addiction that sneaks up on most of us without us even realizing. After all, everyone has to spend money, and who doesn’t have a credit card nowadays?
If you’re worried you or a loved one has become addicted to their credit cards, here are 10 signs to watch out for!
One sure sign that you’re abusing your credit cards is that when you see something you want its cost doesn’t faze you, no matter how high it is. Credit cards make us feel like we’re wealthier than we are and shunt any worry about cost into the future. It’s fun while it lasts, but you should never lose sight that it will all one day come crashing down if you’re not careful.
This is most noticeable when you have a partner you’re financially committed and responsible to. It’s always easier to rationalize our behavior to ourselves than it is to a third party. If you find yourself trying to hide or minimize how much you’re spending, it’s a pretty good sign that you, on a subconscious level, know that you’re not proud of what you’re doing.
Do you find that you try and avoid thinking about how much you owe? Does the number make you uncomfortable? Do you not actually count it up because you know you won’t like the answer? These are all signs that you’re in denial about your current financial situation.
A lot of people have this attitude. Things have always worked out before, so they will this time, right? You have that raise you’re sure you’re getting later in the year, or maybe the market will take an upswing or any of a hundred other things that will let you pay back the debt sometime in the fuzzy future.
While we like to think of ourselves as logical and rational, in reality, humans are creatures of habit and instinct. Nothing shows this better than how we spend. When resources are scarce, we’re good about saving money, but a credit card gives us an artificial sense of wealth. If you’re not careful, spending can become a habit just as easy as drinking coffee or chewing gum, unmoored from the very real impact it can have on your life.
There’s nothing wrong with having multiple credit cards. On the contrary, having multiple cards can strengthen your credit score. But the problem is that the more cards you have, the harder they are to keep track of. Each has a different interest rate, reward points, and due dates. You really never need more than a few, and if you find yourself upwards of four, then the reality is you most likely just addicted to putting money on them.
Sometimes the reality is that we just don’t have the money to pay off our bill in full every month. It happens. And if you have a card with no interest rate, then it makes sense to transfer any debt from your cards that do have interest rates to it. But if you find yourself regularly transferring balances back and forth between cards, and even opening new cards just to transfer debt you already have to them, then it means you have a problem.
There are other options when it comes to lending than just credit cards. A personal loan, keep track of, or payday loan are all valid avenues for getting the money you need with their own assorted pros and cons. But if you’re unwilling to even look at them, it means you’re overly attached to the convenience of your credit cards.
We all from time to time end up buying things that end up being less useful than we thought. It’s just a consequence of living in an uncertain world. But there’s a difference between that happening every once and a while, and finding your drowning in things you’ve bought and never used. With a credit card, it’s easy to buy things you don’t truly need.
Granted, we’re not the ultimate authority when it comes to credit card addiction, but if you’ve gotten this far and feel like the first nine signs are wrong for one reason or another, it’s a strong sign that you’re in denial. Really try and step back and think about how you use your credit cards and whether it’s a sustainable way to live.