Addiction to credit cards is a very real problem. These shiny pieces of plastic have a huge impact on your financial health. While there isn’t an exact number of credit cards a consumer should have, it varies depending on each person. If you’re failing to make your minimum payments and have numerous different cards, it may be time for you to break your credit card addiction. Credit cards have become the new standard form of payment for everything from groceries to gas to monthly bills. However, some people rack up more credit card debt than they can afford and it begins what many call a “debt snowball.”
It starts with spending a little more than you can afford and saying you’ll pay it next month, or not realizing what you spend during a monthly period. When you start to say the same thing month after month it starts to add up, and before you know it you can barely afford the minimum payments on your cards. If you’re struggling and failing to make your minimum payments on your credit cards each month or you simply have a lot of debt, it may be time for you to break the cycle and end your credit card addiction.
Here are some tips to help you get started and rid yourself of credit card debt.
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Recognize the Problem
Credit card debt may be hard to beat, but the first step to overcoming it is recognizing your issue. If you are in deep credit card debt, it may be hard to face your financial troubles. Using too many credit cards is a problem, and “withdrawal” is necessary. There are various reasons why you may have fallen into debt – stress, fear, unforeseen unemployment, economic disaster – but you can break the credit card addiction, and you will be happier for it. Debt for many can be embarrassing and stressful which is why many people avoid dealing with it or deny it all together.
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So, what are the signs you have a problem? If you have no available credit on your credit cards, you are afraid to look at your statements, and there is no money in your bank accounts at the end of the month you may have a credit card addiction.
Start Saying No
Credit card companies want your business, and it’s not unlikely you are constantly being bombarded with incentives for more cards offering short-term benefits like low interest rates on balance transfers. While this is enticing, for those with credit card addiction, this is very dangerous. A good start to being able to “just say no” is to place unsolicited mail from potential creditor’s right into the trash. Doing this will help you stop the vicious cycle of more debt due to credit cards.
Give Your Credit Cards a Week Off
Yes, that’s right put your cards in your drawer stored away for one week and see how you do. Keep your debt card handy, but track how many times you would reach for a credit card in the short course of a week. If you don’t have your card accessible in your wallet, then you have the ability to determine if the purchase is an impulse buy, or something truly necessary. After the week is over, sort through you put away and choose one to keep in your wallet for emergencies for one month. If after a month those other cards do not leave the draw, you have learned you do not need them either. You may want to consider choosing one or two to put in your wallet and get rid of the rest.
Have a “What If” Fund
Today, it is important to have cash in the bank for emergencies, and the security that comes with knowing you have the money to fall back on. Ideally, you should aim to have six months’ of regular expenses based on your budget. The point of having a well-stocked emergency fund is to avoid credit cards for emergencies. If you reach for cash instead of card every time something unforeseen arises, your financial situation will be more manageable.
Make a Tight Budget
To get out of a credit card addiction you need to know what you can spend each month. If you’re one of many people whose monthly income just matches up with your expenses or you spend more than you make, it’s time to go through all your financial statements and fully understand what you are spending. Look into cheaper options for things such as cable and cut out unnecessary expenses such as magazine subscriptions and unused gym memberships. Cutting these expenses will give you more money to put towards paying off your credit card debt each month.
Target One Debt at a Time
Whether your goal is to pay off one card or boost your credit score completely, both can be accomplished by tackling one debt at a time. Focusing on the highest interest rate card or the card with the lowest debt are both great starting points. You can put as much as you can towards them each month while still paying the minimum balance on your other debts. This can make the task less stressful and like you are accomplishing more.
Cash Not Card
If you like to shop, having a credit card can easily sway you to make unnecessary, large purchases that you cannot afford. With cash or debit, you are less likely to overspend because you are working with a finite amount. Cash spending is generally more thought out while credit card spending tends to be more impulsive. If you can’t control the spending, bring only cash on your shopping trips. It is easy to underestimate how much you’re spending when swiping a card.
However, if you use the old-fashioned method of spending cash, you will become more aware of how much you are spending. You will be able to limit how much you spend! I suggest bringing a pre-budgeted amount of cash with you when you go shopping to ensure that you do not spend more than you intended. Most purchases like gas, food, and healthcare related items can be bought with cash since those items have no need for warranty or return.
Eventually, credit card addiction will catch up with you and this is why it’s essential to deal with your issue head on. Don’t be afraid to ask for help many may need a support system if they are dealing with an overspending problem. Breaking addictions is challenging, but once you to take control of your situation you can build a secure financial future and stay out of debt.
Women in the workplace have always experienced a certain degree of discrimination from male colleagues, and according to new studies, it appears that it is becoming even more difficult for women to get acclimated to modern day work environments, in wake of the #MeToo Movement.
In a recent study conducted by LeanIn.org, in partnership with SurveyMonkey, 60% of male managers confessed to feeling uncomfortable engaging in social situations with women in and outside of the workplace. This includes interactions such as mentorships, meetings, and basic work activities. This statistic comes as a shocking 32% rise from 2018.
What appears the be the crux of the matter is that men are afraid of being accused of sexual harassment. While it is impossible to discredit this fear as incidents of wrongful accusations have taken place, the extent to which it has burgeoned is unacceptable. The #MeToo movement was never a movement against men, but an empowering opportunity for women to speak up about their experiences as victims of sexual harassment. Not only were women supporting one another in sharing to the public that these incidents do occur, and are often swept under the rug, but offered men insight into behaviors and conversations that are typically deemed unwelcomed and unwarranted.
Restricting interaction with women in the workplace is not a solution, but a mere attempt at deflecting from the core issue. Resorting to isolation and exclusion relays the message that if men can't treat women how they want, then they rather not deal with them at all. Educating both men and women on what behaviors are unacceptable while also creating a work environment where men and women are held accountable for their actions would be the ideal scenario. However, the impact of denying women opportunities of mentorship and productive one-on-one meetings hinders growth within their careers and professional networks.
Women, particularly women of color, have always had far fewer opportunities for mentorship which makes it impossible to achieve growth within their careers without them. If women are given limited opportunities to network in and outside of a work environment, then men must limit those opportunities amongst each other, as well. At the most basic level, men should be approaching female colleagues as they would approach their male colleagues. Striving to achieve gender equality within the workplace is essential towards creating a safer environment.
While restricted communication and interaction may diminish the possibility of men being wrongfully accused of sexual harassment, it creates a hostile
environment that perpetuates women-shaming and victim-blaming. Creating distance between men and women only prompts women to believe that male colleagues who avoid them will look away from or entirely discredit sexual harassment they experience from other men in the workplace. This creates an unsafe working environment for both parties where the problem at hand is not solved, but overlooked.
According to LeanIn's study, only 85% of women said they feel safe on the job, a 5% drop from 2018. In the report, Jillesa Gebhardt wrote, "Media coverage that is intended to hold aggressors accountable also seems to create a sense of threat, and people don't seem to feel like aggressors are held accountable." Unfortunately, only 16% of workers believed that harassers holding high positions are held accountable for their actions which inevitably puts victims in difficult, and quite possibly dangerous, situations. 50% of workers also believe that there are more repercussions for the victims than harassers when speaking up.
In a research poll conducted by Edison Research in 2018, 30% of women agreed that their employers did not handle harassment situations properly while 53% percent of men agreed that they did. Often times, male harassers hold a significant amount of power within their careers that gives them a sense of security and freedom to go forward with sexual misconduct. This can be seen in cases such as that of Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby and R. Kelly. Men in power seemingly have little to no fear that they will face punishment for their actions.
Source-Alex Brandon, AP
Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook executive and founder of LeanIn.org., believes that in order for there to be positive changes within work environments, more women should be in higher positions. In an interview with CNBC's Julia Boorstin, Sandberg stated, "you know where the least sexual harassment is? Organizations that have more women in senior leadership roles. And so, we need to mentor women, we need to sponsor women, we need to have one-on-one conversations with them that get them promoted." Fortunately, the number of women in leadership positions are slowly increasing which means the prospect of gender equality and safer work environments are looking up.
Despite these concerning statistics, Sandberg does not believe that movements such as the Times Up and Me Too movements, have been responsible for the hardship women have been experiencing in the workplace. "I don't believe they've had negative implications. I believe they're overwhelmingly positive. Because half of women have been sexually harassed. But the thing is it is not enough. It is really important not to harass anyone. But that's pretty basic. We also need to not be ignored," she stated. While men may be feeling uncomfortable, putting an unrealistic amount of distance between themselves and female coworkers is more harmful to all parties than it is beneficial. Men cannot avoid working with women and vice versa. Creating such a hostile environment is also detrimental to any business as productivity and communication will significantly decrease.
The fear or being wrongfully accused of sexual harassment is a legitimate fear that deserves recognition and understanding. However, restricting interactions with women in the workplace is not a sensible solution as it can have negatively impact a woman's career. Companies are in need of proper training and resources to help both men and women understand what is appropriate workplace behavior. Refraining from physical interactions, commenting on physical appearance, making lewd or sexist jokes and inquiring about personal information are also beneficial steps towards respecting your colleagues' personal space. There is still much work to be done in order to create safe work environments, but with more and more women speaking up and taking on higher positions, women can feel safer and hopefully have less contributions to make to the #MeToo movement.