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Measuring Finances
Credit Cards
Assets vs. Liabilities

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This and That:
Learning Financial Responsibility

Whatís The Alternative To Credit Cards?

If all you want to achieve is to avoid carrying around large sums of cash you may want to use checks. Be aware, though, that paying with checks assumes the same discipline about knowing your balance as paying with a credit card does. In addition, check-related laws are stricter and bouncing checks can have serious legal consequences, so paying with checks requires even more discipline than paying with a card.

You may want to look into alternate non-cash payment methods such as debit cards, which typically only cover the amount of money thatís available in your bank account. Make sure the debit card is not set up with an overdraft protection because that puts you right back in the overspending risk and also causes extra charges in case you do charge more than you have in your account.

What if the debit card doesnít go through? Ė Great! Youíve just been made aware that youíre spending more than you have. Thatís what you want to happen if youíre serious about controlling your cash flow and your spending. If you canít pay for it, leave it at the store!

If you have an ongoing relationship with the provider of the goods or services you want to buy, you can often arrange bank drafts that process within a relatively short amount of time. For a one-time payment you can also initiate a wire transfer, although thatís only attractive for larger bills since the cost for wire transfers is significant, in some cases up to $50. With all of these non-cash transactions you have to keep in mind that there will be at least one to two business day to process the money out of your account and three to five business days until the money hits the receiverís account. So theyíre really not ďinstantaneousĒ purchases.

The final alternative to cashless transactions is good old hard cash. Yes, I know, I pointed out the risk of being mugged earlier, but the point is, that, if youíre not able (or willing) to keep an up-to-date balance of your available cash at any time or youíre not able to control yourself and walk away from a purchase because you really canít afford it, then you need to start paying for everything with cash and throw away the credit, debit and whatnot cards. If you canít pay for an item with the cash you have, then thereís no point in you having it.

(read on ...) 

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