Are You Emotionally Invested In Your Credit Card?

rewards credit card

I was listening to the Dave Ramsey show on my way to work this morning, and Dave was talking to a caller on his show that had just taken the plunge, pledged to go no further into debt and then cut up his credit cards.   He was talking about how it had been extremely hard for him to get out those scissors, and actually cut up the cards, they had just been sitting on his desk for like a week.  The problem was that he had become emotionally invested in his credit card.  Cutting up that card was like saying goodbye to an old friend.

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Why Do We Become So Attached To Our  Credit Cards?

There are a lot of reasons why we find it so hard to just get rid of the credit cards, and start living a cash-only lifestyle.  

  • Credit cards  help us to create fun and be spontaneous:   It was fun to buy that new big screen TV for the Super Bowl party wasn’t it?  Of course you had to pay off that TV over a few months at 18% interest, but still!
  • Credit cards give us a sense of security: It’s nice to know that you have a safety net there in case something were to happen.  Engine goes out?  Don’t worry, credit card to the rescue!  Never mind the fact that setting up an emergency fund would fill the exact same purpose, and not put you into so much debt!
  • Credit cards reward us for spending our money:  Hey, we’re going to spend the money anyway, why not get rewarded for all that spending we do?  Problem is, a  2006 survey by GMAC Mortgage and Harris Interactive found that more than 41 percent of reward cardholders either rarely or never even bother to use their rewards.  Add to that the fact that people who use credit cards actually spend up to 18% more than those who use cash, you’re probably spending 12-18% more to get a 1% cash back check!  Does that make sense?
  • The credit card company is helping me:  You’ve probably seen all those commercials lately where the credit card companies talk about how they’re helping you to “spend responsibly” and how their credit card bills are just  as good as setting up a budget.   The thing is, they never discourage spending – they just help you figure out where you’re spending so you can spend it in other areas. Remember, the credit card companies are not your friend, and they didn’t become huge multi-billion dollar companies by being “helping” people.
  • Credit cards help us be nostalgic:  For some of the cards that you’ve had for the longest amount of time, just taking it out of the wallet can remind you of a simpler time – when you were in college going out with friends.  Or going out on that first date with your spouse – paying with this credit card.    Don’t worry – you won’t lose those memories just by cutting up your old friend – the credit card!

Becoming Emotionally Invested In A Credit Card Is Silly

Instead of becoming all emotionally invested in your credit card because of the things it can provide, try changing things up and living cash only.  You’ll find it much more emotionally satisfying than your relationship with your credit card.  Think of it this way.  The credit card is the one night stand that gives you an STD.  It might be fun for that one night, but you’ll be paying the consequences for a long time.  Saving up and paying cash is much more rewarding.  It’s like an emotionally satisfying relationship with a loved one that always pays dividends, even when times are tough.  

So how can you replace your credit card without feeling that sense of loss?

  • Set up an emergency fund:  Set up an emergency fund of 3-6 months of expenses, and you’ll have an even better sense of security than a credit card can give you.
  • Set up a fun money category in your budget:  You can be fun and spontaneous without a credit card!  Set up a category in your budget of discretionary money that you can blow or spend at the drop of a hat.   Fun money that you won’t have to pay 18% interest on!
  • Reward yourself for NOT spending:  Set up your first budget and reward yourself reaching savings goals.   No need to spend 12-18% more to get those rewards!
  • Help yourself:  Instead of  relying on the credit card bill to show you where you’re spending money, set up your own budget and figure it out on your own!
  • Reminisce on your own: You don’t need an inanimate object like a credit card to remind you of the good times.  Just call up a loved one and they’ll be happy to reminisce with you!

Just Say Goodbye To Your Credit Card

Don’t become emotionally invested in that credit card.  While it may seem like it’s hard to say goodbye, destroying that card and cancelling that account will be more fun that you could have realized.

Check out this video of how one creative guy destroyed his credit card!

Have you ever found yourself emotionally invested in your credit card – finding it hard to say goodbye? Tell us about it in the comments?

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Last Edited: 25th March 2009

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  1. says

    I don’t know if people become emotionally invested in the credit card itself but in the spending experience as a whole. The card is just a tool used to spend. People get a spending high and the easy tool happens to be a credit card. Silly, but true and everyone is a victim of it at some point.

    • says

      I think that was kind of one of the points I was trying to make. They get emotionally invested in the things the card can do for them – and the spending experience. They like the fun it creates, and the sense of security it can give -even if it is fleeting and a false sense of security.

  2. says

    There is indeed a big connection. The credit card companies are not dumb. This is why they suck you in with different backgrounds on the card facing to ‘personalize’ your card.

    That’s why personal finance is so much more personal than math. You have to detox the emotional baggage before you should even care what is mathematically most correct.

  3. Kathryn says

    i have (2) credit cards – they are paid off and I rarely use them! Yet, when I do, I pay them off immediately.

    I have “thought” about cutting them up – and still haven’t! I don’t know it that is emotionally invested; I just think …I might need them in an emergency; and some places like airlines – won’t take cash!

  4. Ted says

    Thank you for the inspiration! My wife and I have been following the Dave Ramsey plan for almost 4 years and I am currently leading my second FPU class. We enjoy reading your blog and after reading yesterday’s entry I wrote a fun little poem to send to my class along with your link.

    What are you waiting for!?!

    The time has come,
    The time is now!
    Dispose of those cards,
    I don’t care how!

    Cut them – Clip them – Snip Snip Snip!
    Grab your scissors – get a grip!
    Blend them – Shred them – start the chipper.
    Use power tools! Just pull the trigger.

    Are you a Free Spirit or are you a Nerd?
    Fill out your budget, don’t follow the herd.
    The credit cards are NOT your friends!
    Send them to a timely end.

    The borrower is a slave you know,
    For the Bible tells us so.
    There is no need to pause or fret.
    Cut the cards and pay the debt.

    Live like no other! Seize the day!
    Gazelle Intensity paves the way.
    So you can call Dave and shout with glee,

  5. says


    You’ll be glad to know that we just cut the emotional ties to over 90 credit cards at our FPU class the other night.

    It’s the most well-funded marketing machine on the planet. Put $400 billion per year into marketing rocks and people will have emotional attachments to rocks!

    we’ll have a post coming soon.

    • says

      That’s great to hear! We had a lot of cut up credit cards at our FPU class too. We had the jar in front of class that we’d put all the tiny pieces. Very freeing to cut them up!

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