Almost 40% of Canadians have credit card debt according to a recent survey by Harris/Decima for Hoyes, Michalos & Associates. Of those, over half say they always or often carry an outstanding balance. That means there are a lot of people who are carrying really expensive debt and the frustrations that go with it.

Here are three great tips to help you curb the spending on your credit cards, drop the guilt and keep more money in your pocket.

1. Cool it down
Create a “cooling off” period for credit card purchases by making it harder to get at. Take your card out of your wallet and put it somewhere that is less accessible.

A simple and effective way to cool it down is to place your credit card into a container with water and store it in the freezer. Want to buy something off budget? You have to wait until the container melts giving you some time to consider your decision.

2. Remember it isn’t yours
Understand who owns the money. If you think that the credit available on your credit card is your money, think again. You are borrowing it, and often at 19-28%.

When you consider a purchase on credit and you know you don’t have the money to pay for it, add 20% to the price. NOW, decide if you still want it.

Sometimes we just need to think about how much more expensive it will be using the credit card company’s money.

3. Work from zero
Focus on getting your lowest balance card to zero. Sometimes it is necessary use a credit card. When you do, use the credit card that is at zero. Plan for and commit to paying it off to zero every month.

Paying a $250 card balance back to $0 gives you a lift and you are more aware of the money spent on the purchase. It also gives you an incentive to keep the card at zero to avoid the interest charges.

Compare that to paying for a $250 purchase on a card with a balance of $2385.

Paying down debts is about stopping the bleeding. It is about choosing to not spend money you don’t have. Set up tricks, tools and systems for yourself so you stay smart and get ahead.

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