It happened about a year ago. I needed to pay for something online and I realized I had no idea what my credit card number was. At the time it was a frustrating moment. I used to memorize my credit card number, and the inconvenience of having to get up out of my chair, walk over to my purse, pull out my wallet, and get the number from my credit card was an annoyance. But then I realized – I hadn’t bought anything online in so long that I had forgotten my credit card number. The minor annoyance was actually the sign of a big accomplishment!
I think it’s pretty safe to say that if you memorize your credit card number, you’re using it too much. Now, my fiancé will argue, “but I memorize my credit card number and I barely spend any money!” This is true, but he also memorizes my cell phone number, the birthdays of every family member and friend, and the FedEx account number of a stranger who said it out loud to the cashier while he was waiting on line (no, he doesn’t fraudulently use her FedEx account). There will always be exceptions to any rule, but for most people, whether or not you memorize your credit card number is a good barometer for your spending habits.
If you’ve failed the test and you have your credit card number committed to memory, it’s time to evaluate your spending patterns and make a change. Cutting up your card or freezing it in ice won’t do it, since your problem is online spending (though it can certainly be a help if you also pull out your credit card too often at restaurants and department stores). Here are a few things you can do to reduce the urge to buy things online:
Unsubscribe From Emails
I used to get daily emails from three discount apparel sites. Each day, I would click through to see what the daily deals were. True, these sites offered a lot of great stuff for a fraction of the retail price, but even at 75% off, it’s not a good deal if you weren’t already planning on buying it. Unsubscribe from these emails immediately and you will soon get out of the habit of checking the sites daily. Removing temptations is the single most important step you can take to getting a better handle on your spending.
Unfollow on Twitter and Unlike on Facebook
Along the same lines as unsubscribing from emails, take away any reminders that may pop up on social media. These may not be as frequent or as conspicuous as emails sitting in your inbox, but they have the same effect. You should never be one click away from a site where you’re likely to spend money, so make sure no ads or promotions find their way into your social media. In fact, you may want to ignore Facebook entirely, since they post plenty of dangerous ads on the sidebar. Hell, stop reading my blog if the ads on the side are too tempting (though based on the complete lack of affiliate income I’ve received, I’m guessing they’re not).
Request a New Credit Card
If you go to your credit card’s website, you can report your card as lost or stolen to get a new number. Now the number you have memorized is completely useless! This will add an additional step if you want to buy something online, giving you a few extra moments to rethink your purchase. Any roadblocks you can put up to make it even the tiniest bit more difficult to spend money are good. Do remember to update your credit card number for any automatic payments you have set up, though.