Embrace the Debit Card

Finance, Home & Family, People
on August 22, 2011

Dave Ramsey is a money-management expert, national radio personality and best-selling author.

Dear Dave,
I can’t get my wife to stop using credit cards. We pay them off every month, but it still scares me. I’ve tried to get her to use a debit card instead, but she doesn’t like the idea of having $500 in the bank and seeing something she wants that costs more. Any ideas?

—Dan via email

Dave Says: I think the real issue here is that the girl is just a little bit spoiled. It sounds to me like she does whatever she wants, and then you guys cover it. That’s not togetherness.

To most people, credit cards represent three things. One: convenience. They’re easier to use because you don’t have to fool with a checkbook. Two: security. If you’re away from home and need money, you can just pop it into a machine. And three: A way to get stuff you can’t afford. This doesn’t sound like the case here, because you pay them off every month. But the fact remains that a debit card will do virtually anything a credit card can do.
I want the two of you to sit down together and start doing a written budget every month—on paper, before the next month begins. Ask her how much she’d need in the account each month to feel comfortable, and come to a reasonable, affordable agreement on this. Then, pull out the scissors and cut up the credit cards—together.

You need some flexibility here, Dan. But she needs to grow up and get over the idea that she’s supposed to have whatever she wants the second she wants it!