The consequences of overusing credit cards can be far reaching. If you have been reading our credit card guide – or any other credit card articles on the web – you have probably read about how important it is to pay more than the minimum balance, to be debt free and all those great ideas for managing credit card use. But the truth is, it’s hard.
In 2010, 68% of American adults had credit cards (Ray & Ghahremani, n.d.). Of those, about 55% of the people had a balance on their card – this number was actually significantly down from the preceding years (Ray & Ghahremani, n.d.), but still really high. The truth is that millions of Americans – and other people around the world – carry credit card debt. That is why we see so many television shows dedicated to getting rid of your debt, books about it, articles about it – debt, and trying to get out of debt seems to be an American pastime.
But no longer.
You can start to make your way out of credit card debt and recover from the effects of overusing credit cards. Does this mean that like a 12 step program you need to get rid of all your credit cards and quit cold turkey? Maybe, if you have a serious problem. But more likely it means you need to learn to control your spending. See our article LINK for some ideas. But also, know this – studies have found that when you live in a cluttered environment you actually spend more.
You don’t have to be an expert in the Chinese art of Feng Shui to live an organized life. Everyone can benefit from a clean, organized environment. In fact, a 2014 study found that people who live in a cluttered environment (i.e. a messy desk, a crowded home, books falling off shelves) tended to spend more money (Chae & Zhu, 2014). And don’t think this doesn’t apply to you – we aren’t just talking about crazy hoarders making mazes of boxes in their living room, we mean you with the pile of mail spilling onto the floor and the entry hall desk you just can’t keep clean.
So why is this true? Well, one might argue that a person who is cluttered and disorganized loses things and has to replace them. But the truth is that there seems to be a parallel between our environment and our brain. When we live in clutter our brains become stressed, and buying can be one way to relieve that stress. Clutter saps your energy and damages your self-control (Chae & Zhu, 2014) – add credit cards, which seem to remove us from the pain of spending cash and make over-spending much easier and you have a dangerous combination. A cluttered life can lead to credit card shopping addiction and other problems.
So, what is the solution to the consequences of overusing credit cards? The solution is twofold. First, clean up your physical space. Do some serious spring cleaning. Get rid of unnecessary items, organize your environment, make everything healthy and clean. This will help to relieve your stress and make every day more pleasant.
Then, avoid overusing your credit cards. Remember that it is easier to wave a plastic card around than to count out cold, hard cash. Only charge on a card things you know you would be willing to buy with cash.
Chae, B. & Zhu, R. (2014). Self-regulatory failure. Journal of Consumer Research. Retrieved from,
Ray, D. & Ghahremani, Y. (n.d.). Credit card statistics, industry facts, debt statistics. Retrieved from,
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