I’m someone who’s always used credit cards to finance my day to day needs. I enjoy capturing the airline miles as I’m a passionate traveler, and I’ve always been able to keep the spending in control and interest free. Not to toot my own horn but I’ve done pretty well at leveraging my credit cards to my advantage, but I know this is not the case for thousands of Americans today.

Tales of households with $70k+ credit card debt absolutely blows my mind. Simple statements like “I pay the minimum every month” also leave my jar ajar – don’t people know they are surrendering a significant amount of their income to interest? Has the consumer mindset taken such a hold that the public doesn’t care about their financial future?

What I’m trying to say here is two fold. First, credit cards make it psychologically easier for you to spend money, and lots of it. The mindset of kicking the can down the road when it comes to credit card bills is enticing when you want that new TV, dress, car, etc. Bottom line: credit cards are designed to incentivize spending.

Next, due to the fact that it’s so much easier to throw money away with these cards, you need self discipline. The best way to get out of debt is to never get into it in the first place. If things start getting out of control make sacrifices and pay down your balance. You do not want to be paying these egregious interest rates as it will have an extremely negative impact on your financial well being.  Stay out of debt by not getting into it – it’s that simple.

In conclusion, use credit cards to your advantage while living within your means and you’ll see the real benefit of their use. It’s when you let the consumerist mindset take control that you fall into their trap and get stuck in interest rate dungeon. If you’re really worried, just pay cash for everything…but at the end of the day be credit card smart so the interest rate game doesn’t play you like a fiddle.