Friday, March 03, 2006

Credit Card Addiction

I went through all the blogrolls on most of the financial blogs that I found. Many people have started these blogs to document their process while getting out of debt. Most importantly, they were paying off their credit card addiction. Yes, I used the word addiction.

What is the definition of addiction? According to the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary

One entry found for addiction.

Main Entry: ad·dic·tion
Pronunciation: &-'dik-sh&n, a-
Function: noun
1 : the quality or state of being addicted
2 : compulsive need for and use of a habit-forming substance (as heroin, nicotine, or alcohol) characterized by tolerance and by well-defined physiological symptoms upon withdrawal; broadly : persistent compulsive use of a substance known by the user to be harmful

I know some of you think this is a harsh word. Is it really? Let me tell you a little story. When I was single, I worked in The Gap part time (my full time job as a supervisor in a bank couldn't feed my habit of shopping). The manager and I became very close. He confronted me about my shopping habit. I was honest about the huge balances I was carrying on all my cards. He asked me to give up the cards and he put them in the store's safe so that I wouldn't use them. What did I do? I was ok for a little while. Then I started freaking out and I found ways to use them even without having them. I would go to the store and get a temporary shopping pass for the day. You know, the one you can get when you forget your credit card, but you still have your driver's license. Later when I was married, my husband CUT MY CARDS! He cut my Bloomie's, A&S, American Airlines and Discover Card. It was WW III. Later that week, I received new ones in the mail. (I blamed it on the kids and their access to a scissor ). The same deceptive behavior of an addict, same high....different method.

With that in mind I pondered about what led me to the point where I said "Enough!"
Two things contributed to this action.
1. I realized that I was a slave to MASTERCARD. Those credit cards own me, my time and most of my possessions.
2. The pain outweighed the pleasure. Usually in 12 step programs, they have meetings where each person stands and proclaims that they have a problem. Why? They have hit rockbottom and know that there is no longer any pleasure in the action, but increased pain. They have to admit to themselves and the world that they have a problem and that they need to work on it on a daily basis.

How do I know that I have reached that threshhold? I don't want to answer the phone, open my mailbox or balance my checkbook. Why? Well, because it is just painful. Bills, Bills, Bills just like Beyonce and Destiny's Child sing. That's all there is.

This leads to one of the most important points of starting the journey to become debt free. Your thoughts and feelings must be in tune with your goal. You need to see what triggers the emotions of wanting to spend, charge and shop and then work those feelings out. This is no different than people that feed their loneliness, depression and need for control by overeating. It is also the same as the person that medicates with substances such as alcohol and drugs to numb the pain of their past.

Did I make you think? Competing with the Joneses' takes on a whole new light, doesn't it?

Think about this post and feel free to leave a comment.


Anji said...

I think addiction is the right word to use.

Creditworthy said...

At the core of any addiction lies great emotional response and the effects are not instantly visible. One of my close friends got into
credit card debt
because of his spending with ease. His recovering from that sticky habit has been lasting for more than a year - I mean, paying off credits. One can accuse credit card companies of such addiction bit they earn on it. Happy for you, SuperMom that you've won your addiction.

Derrick said...

Addiction! Well said... Credit card debt gives consumers the false sense of having money that never once existed ( plastic ) - It's good to shred the cards, get rid of them entirely! By doing so, you wont need to find help with credit card debt later down the road. Just my 2 cents.

Anonymous said...

A simple quick fix to that addiction, walk up to your shredder and shred the cards. Out of site out of mind right?