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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

When credit cards become an addiction

When credit cards become an addiction
Recognizing credit addiction warning signs helps avert financial losses
Psychological counseling may be necessary when confronting credit addiction

Credit card addiction has similarities to other addictions in the sense it involves a seemingly uncontrollable compulsion to use the product of addiction i.e. credit cards for some kind of unhealthy psychological relief or reason. If one is addicted to credit cards, their use can become excessive and a perpetual need that makes one 'feel better' through daily spending may become a habit.

One may deny there is a problem but still know something is wrong in the back of their mind. This article will illustrate some of the indicators associated with credit card addiction in addition to providing helpful tips to help recover and climb out of the subsequent financial complications. The article will discuss  warning signs of credit card addiction,  ways to help credit card 'addicts', and  sources of financial and/or psychological assistance.

Warning signs of credit card addiction

The warning signs of credit card addiction may be either blatantly obvious or subtle. If the person knows they are doing something wrong, but can't help themselves, they may attempt to hide the problem making it harder to discover at first. Eventually however, signs such as those listed below will appear. The more exposed one is to the individual who may have a credit card problem, the easier it may be to detect the most obvious signs of excess credit card usage.

• Multiple credit cards
• Everything purchased goes on the cards even if one has cash
• Most of the cards have reached their maximum available balance
• One often shifts balances to new credit and recently applied for credit cards
• Bills aren't paid on time
• Excuses and rationalizations are made to justify the spending

Every situation is unique and may require sensitivity and understanding to the situation. Some people may have not choice but to use credit cards due to money problems, unemployment or other financial difficulties such as emergencies, medical treatment etc. In such cases the use of credit cards is less addiction on more financial difficulty.

Ways to help credit card addicts

As with any fragile or sensitive situation, it may be advisable to approach the situation as one would any addiction or problem. Not every problem can be solved instantaneously and some issues are worked out over time with gradual improvement. In the case of credit card addiction, there are the steps of  accepting there is a problem,  finding a solution to the problem and working to implement the solution. A few methods that can be used to approach a person who may have a credit card problem are illustrated below:

• Find or suggest other ways to spend such as via a cash budget.
• Be understanding, rational and compassionate whether it be oneself or a friend.
• Try and accept the situation for what it is, feel comfortable with the reality.
• Avoid creating a panic situation by making accusations
• Refrain from labeling and calling a person an 'addict'
• Face reality if at all possible; talk with family, friends or credit counselors.
• Seek ways to get out of the situation be it via employment, scissors or stopping.

By the time one discovers one is a credit card addict, there may be both psychological and financial implications. One may have to hit the financial bottom before picking up the pieces and climbing back up. The good thing about credit card addiction is that it isn't a health problem other than the related stress. But take stock of the things that aren't wrong to find inspiration.

Sources of financial and psychological assistance

In addition to the above methods there are also more formal methods of attaining help with credit card addiction. All these sources can help an individual either emotionally or financially and may be wise to consider amidst financial difficulty.

Family and Friends: Family and friends can lend an understanding ear if they have time and inclination. They may be supportive, offer some helpful advice and help one feel better.

Credit Counselors: Credit counselors are trained to deal with debt problems such as credit card addiction and out of control spending. They know many ways to deal with debt and may be worth a call. When using a credit counselor it may also be wise to research a little.

• Bankruptcy Attorneys: Bankruptcy attorney's can offer assistance when there is absolutely no hope. They can charge large fees for their services however and bankruptcy can have a lasting affect on one's credit rating.

• Social Groups and Networks: Peer groups of people in similar situations may be found on online networking sites or through community services. Talking with other people with the same kind of problem can be healing.

• Psychological Therapists: If the credit card addiction is part of a bigger problem such as obsessive-compulsive disorder a psychologist may be needed. Psychologists can help with behavioral and cognitive issues.

• The Credit Card Company: The credit card companies themselves may be able to help by either lowering interest rates or referring to a collection agency. Indirectly the collection agency may serve as a wake up call.

Credit card addiction is a somewhat defamatory term that describes individuals who compulsively spend with credit cards whether it be necessity or for a feel good experience. True credit card addicts are the latter and may require serious help, however in all cases of rampant credit card use the above indicators and tips can be useful in recognizing and dealing with the situation.

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