Tips for Putting Your Credit Card on Ice (Sometimes Literally)

Tips for Putting Your Credit Card on Ice (Sometimes Literally)

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[Editorial note: The evaluations of financial products in this article are independently determined by Wirecutter and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any third party.]

If your credit card statement is only a few digits shy of becoming a phone number, you might consider putting your spending on pause while you make a debt-repayment plan. And the best way to stop using your credit cards is to pretend they don’t exist anymore: You can’t spend with something you don’t have, after all. Of course, that’s easier said than done, which is why we’ve put together some of the best “out of sight, out of mind” tricks to help you curb your credit card spending as you whittle down your balances.

Make online shopping inconvenient

I’ve discovered this helpful trick by accident: I usually opt not to save my credit card number to my online accounts at checkout. I do this mainly as a security precaution (I don’t want too many sites storing my info), and I’ve found that having to take the extra step of reentering those numbers when buying something can sometimes slow me down enough to change my mind on making a purchase.

—Shelly Yip, senior software engineer

Pretend it’s debit

This isn’t really an out of sight, out of mind trick, but it is a good way to think about using a credit card responsibly. Essentially, I use my credit card as a debit card (I don’t spend what I don’t have), but one that has more perks. I also have my credit card set to autopay my full balance every month so that I never have to think about it (and I don’t have to pay interest, either).

—Jennifer Hunter, supervising editor

Talk finances with your spouse

Having to discuss purchases with my spouse helped me cut back on a lot of unnecessary spending. We each have an “allowance,” and all month I think about how I’m going to spend my fun $50. It satisfies that urge and makes me think about why I really want a thing.

—Signe Brewster, staff writer

Mingle with your unmentionables

When I’m trying to cut back on using my credit cards, I leave them tucked away in my underwear drawer. I limit my spending to my debit card—that way, if I want something that I can’t afford without putting myself in debt, I can’t purchase the thing no matter how badly I want it in the moment. It’s for my own good, really.

—Elissa Sanci, associate staff writer

Freeze your credit—literally

On the advice of a trusted women’s magazine, I once froze my credit cards to curb my spending. I literally froze them—in cups of water in the freezer. That way, whenever I wanted to spend, I’d have to want something badly enough to go home, defrost my cards, and head back out. It worked so well, I got into the habit of browsing only while shopping and coming back to a store days later if I couldn’t stop thinking about my object of affection. Frustrated with how easy it is for me to spend without thinking these days, I recently adapted the idea to a digital equivalent: I made my devices forget my financial info. I can’t stand it—but it’s effective.

—Melinda Anderson, Wirecutter reader

Just use cash

When I go shopping, I take out a specific amount of money for whatever it is I’m doing—whether it’s grocery shopping, gift searching, or buying for myself. Once I’ve run out of money during my cash-only spree, I’m done for the day, ensuring that I don’t overspend.

—Samantha Carlisto, Wirecutter reader


I rely on positive reinforcement from artificial intelligence: My Capital One app conveniently posts my credit score super-big right under my balance, so it’s the first thing I see when I open the app. Wanting to keep my score up and the balance down motivates me. I also have a separate finance app called Albert that likes to send weekly text messages, either congratulating me for keeping a low credit balance or gently shaming me for spending more than I do on average. It’s the tough love I need to keep me in line.

—Katie Harrison, Wirecutter reader

Source: NY Times – Wirecutter
Keyword: Tips for Putting Your Credit Card on Ice (Sometimes Literally)

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