Cutting Up Your Last 'Back Up' Credit Card

It took me years to do this. I held on to my last credit card thinking I would need it in an emergency.

But I didn't want it, not really, not deep down inside. I wanted to be free of any future debt as much as is humanly possible.

I would continue to have a credit card, or I should say an atm/debit/check card, with a major credit card logo in the corner, but it would be tied directly to my bank account. I would pay for everything as I went along. No more lagging credit card debt.

But I couldn't do it.

I couldn't snip up that last credit card that would rescue me from my imaginary financial fears.

I wrestled with this issue for years, wanting to be free, but incapable of letting that last safety net go.

So, I called the credit card company and had them reduce my limit. Then a while later I had them reduce it again. Then I asked myself how much debt I would feel comfortable with, and I had it reduced again to that level.

I stayed with that limit for quite a while.

I did have one medical emergency arise that I paid for with the credit card, but I'm sure if I had not had the credit card I would have been even more motivated and bargained harder with the hospital for a lower bill because to me, my credit card wasn't real money. It was an imaginary cushion of money that I could pay back sometime in the future for a small fee.

The flip side of imaginary fear that kept me tied to the credit card is imaginary optimism, or imaginary wealth that's not really there either because I have to pay the piper sooner or later.

I didn't experience reality in either sphere.

But, still I hung on to my credit card.

I read about a woman who froze her credit card in a glass of water to prevent herself from using it except in an extreme emergency, so following that example, I sealed my credit card in an envelope and dated it.

How long could I go without it?

Quite a while.

The months ticked by. One at a time I converted all my online accounts to be paid with my atm/debit/check card with a major credit card logo in the corner. When my regular credit card was completely free and paid off and remained that way for several months I called the credit card company.

"I want to cancel my credit card," I said.

"But sir, we have excellent bonus points if you do thus and such, and we give you five percent back if you buy all your gas using our card, etc., etc., etc."

The more he talked the more convinced I became that I was doing the right thing by canceling the account. All of his words seemed liked metaphorical snares hiding under leaves in the forest.

"Thank you," I said, but I really want to cancel it."

"Let me transfer you to someone who can take care of that for you," he replied.

I was passed on to what sounded like a kindly, grandmother. She reviewed my record and in an apple pie, yet also concerned tone she said I had been an excellent member, and that they would hate to see me go, and did I realize all the benefits I would be missing out on, and she efficiently and calmly explained them all.

I responded to her in an equally pleasant manner that this was my last credit card, and that I wanted to be free, to never be in credit card debt again.

"Don't you think you should keep at least one back up card for emergencies?" she said in a scolding yet sympathetic manner.

"But," I stammered like Little Red Riding Hood facing the kindly wolf, "though I know there is truth to what you're saying, the fact of the matter is I use it to buy things I don't really need or want and can't afford. It's always a temptation. And it makes me a bad bargainer, a less resourceful person than when I'm dealing with real money, my money, because it gives me a false sense of wealth, perhaps undeserved. And I'm hearing stories about complicated spiraling interest rates if I miss a payment, so I'm sorry, but my credit card scares me a little."

"We'll cancel the account," she said abruptly and hung up.

No goodbye.

And now I'm free.