debt

Tired of debt? Live off the credit grid

Perhaps the biggest benefit of going to a cash-only lifestyle is that it forces you to keep closer tabs on the way you spend money, says Kirchenbauer.

That's especially true for those who have a hard time controlling their spending. Living off the credit grid can remove the temptation and the means for shopaholics to seriously overspend, says Burton.

She cites one client who would use her credit card and go on shopping binges, racking up as much as $6,000 in credit card debt in a few weeks. Working from cash only makes such binges much more difficult, she says.

A potential pitfall

However, not all of the financial consequences are positive. Not using any form of credit can eventually hurt your credit score, says Burton, and even the most diehard fans of living off the credit grid need a decent credit score if they ever do decide to go into debt or look for certain types of jobs.

She suggests keeping one credit card open in your name that you use occasionally, being sure to pay it off every month.

"It would be very rare that someone could make it through their entire lives and never need credit, and one of the things that we're seeing now to is potential employers looking at credit reports," says Burton. "Even if you're totally off the grid, you may work in a field that requires them to pull your credit history."

And any way you slice it, if you've been heavily relying on credit, you can probably expect to take a hit to your standard of living.

"A lot of our clients are spending a lot less. Their lifestyles are not nearly as extravagant as they were," says Burton. "You might not have as many lattes as you used to, you may not be shopping at the most expensive stores anymore. People are doing 'staycations' instead of extravagant vacations. But people are really proud of themselves for being able to take control of their spending, change their habits and start saving more."

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