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Just say ‘no’ to debt

By Kemberley Washington · Bankrate.com
Thursday, February 14, 2013
Posted: 2 pm ET

"Just say no" is a slogan meant to keep kids off drugs. But it also can apply to other addictions. If you have been hooked on a lifestyle funded by credit -- payday loans, credit cards or other lines of credit -- decide to divorce your debt troubles today!

In life, you may have to acquire some debt, such as a home mortgage or student loans. But there are other bad debts from which you simply need to stay away.

Do you really need to purchase that big-screen television on credit? While it may be smart to take advantage of interest-free financing for a short period of time, it could cost you more than you bargained for if you do not have the means to pay off the debt.

Cash is better for you

Debit and credit cards are convenient, but using actual cash makes you think twice before making a purchase. Simply seeing real money being removed from your wallet forces you to question purchases. Research shows credit card users are likely to spend 12 percent to 18 percent more than those who pay with cash.

If you have been addicted to plastic, consider using a budget to determine the amount of cash you need for everyday purchases. For example, withdraw cash for gasoline, groceries, clothing and other expenses to last until your next payday.

Once you have exhausted these funds, be prepared to avoid withdrawing money until your next payday. This simple exercise can help you pay for expenses using cash instead of debt.

Mind over money

No matter what comes your way -- whether it is a new pair of jeans or a shiny new dress -- shy away from taking on more debt. If this has been a trouble area for you in the past, take the following proactive steps.

  • Leave credit cards at home, especially for shopping trips.
  • Instead of relying on credit, save money for large purchases.
  • Use credit only when it is absolutely necessary.
  • Remove overdraft protection from your checking and banking accounts. This will restrict you to spending money you actually have right now.
  • Stick to your budget and live within your means.

Remember: your choice, your future!

Kemberley Washington is a certified public accountant and business professor. She writes a personal financial blog at Kemberley.com. Follow her on Twitter and on Facebook.

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