Want to Win? Don’t Play with Credit Cards

By Susan Boskey

Just say no to credit cards; it’s a losing game. Yet, no sooner do these words leave my mouth, than I hear voices chiming in to tell me: “But I get ‘free’ miles.” “I pay the balance off every month.” “I only use it when I travel.” “Credit cards are necessary for building credit.” Oh, how successful the marketing of credit cards has been.

Trust me; the math always works in their favor. Incentivizing you with miles is a smart business strategy aimed directly at your wallet, and perhaps, more importantly, your mind. You believe you are getting something for nothing while such offers are no more than a carrot to gain your business loyalty and personal defense.

How is it that people are so naïve as to not realize the credit-card banking endgame is to make them mentally and financially dependent, long term? In the meanwhile, credit cards provide the illusion of wealth and perpetuate impulsive buying at “credit card premium” prices. Like playing with fire, you can easily get burnt, even when you think you are in control.

As you are strategically addicted to the incentives and the “safety net” concept of credit cards, their banks and the businesses you buy from use proven market research to extract top dollar for their products and services. They have learned that you willingly pay more when using plastic than when handing over hard-earned cash.

One of the most well-known studies, published in 2001 and titled ‘Always Leave Home Without It,’ showed that in certain contexts, people were willing to pay up to twice as much for the same item when paying with a credit card instead of cash. The New York Times, October 10, 2014

You pay more while those you benefit laugh all the way to the bank! The above study also found that (temporary) interest-free loans, of those who pay off their balance every month were not immune; they, too, overspend and pay the “credit card premium.” The mental dependency, justification of credit card use, and chronic overspending, speaks to marketing success; how it has been able to psychologically instill the importance of “consumers” spending more to keep up with social expectations.

Most people opt-in and obey these marketing messages because marketing preys on the fact people naturally want to be well thought of. To opt-out of these surround-sound commercial suggestions takes courage and determination. Your mission, should you accept it, is to opt-out, as a whole-family experiment, and discover what it actually takes to live within your means. What does it mean about how you spend? How you earn? How you save? How you invest? Answers are there for the asking.

Unless you happen to be one of the fortunate wealthy with no financial concerns, behind closed doors, you are likely to pay the price of mounting debt and the loss of personal and spiritual well-being that goes with it in today’s economic environment. Just remember: You don’t have to “go along to get along” when it comes to the sophisticated marketing techniques used by credit-card banks to get you and keep you as a customer. You DO have a choice; it’s just not the popular one.

And if you are wondering, this author owns no credit cards.

Susan Boskey is author of the book, The Quality Life Plan®: 7 Steps to Uncommon Financial Security. This book not only exposes the bottom-line of why more and more families need credit each month just to make ends meet, but also provides practical and transformational strategies, tactics and templates. By their use, you can reverse the downward trend of credit and debt while learning how to establish a long-term, debt-free lifestyle; one allowing you to genuinely build wealth despite the challenges of today’s economic environment. To learn more or to purchase the book, visit her website at http://TheQualityLifePlan.com

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