We have no credit card debt.
It's mostly thanks to circumstance. We have no credit cards, except one that is actually a debit/credit card. We put money on it when we need to. We use it for Internet purchases.
The fact we have no credit cards is thanks to the bankruptcy we had to declare after Michael nearly died from flesh-eating bacteria three days before our insurance kicked in... (wish we'd been in time for Michael Moore's Sicko! Bet he would have loved that story!)
But the result of our financial nightmare is a sort of freedom that, at least statistically, most Americans don't have. We have no debt. No mortgage, no credit cards. Which means, if we can't afford it, we don't buy it. There's no such thing as living beyond our means.
The littles got way too many electronic toys from Grandma this year to suit me - in spite of all the lead warnings... *sigh* They got (mostly) educational, wooden toys from mom and dad and "Santa." Already, one of the electric guitars that Grandma got them has fizzled out. I hate the thought of boxing it up and shipping it back to return it. What a pain. She also gave us a ton of batteries to go with all the noisy electronic toys that was akin to carrying a bag of anvils home.
But it's actually quite gratifying to know that everything they opened from Santa and Mom and Dad on Christmas morning is already paid for. And will probably last a lot longer than the plastic noisemakers Grandma will be paying on until next Christmas and beyond. Why didn't we live like this before? When we had credit cards, we used them. Boy, did we use them! Now that there aren't credit cards to use, we simply adjusted to our newfound poverty - which is actually just reality. We make what we make, we buy what we can afford. Period.
Doing it this way requires planning, and thinking ahead, and keeping a budget, and really considering what you're buying and why and how long it will last. It makes impulsive shopping a thing of the past. Every purchase is carefully considered and weighed before it's made. And in the end, the kids didn't feel deprived. And we're not broke. And I don't have a load of cheap Wal-Mart toys that I'll be throwing away in a month.
Now if I can just get Grandma to stop the insanity...
what do you think are the odds? :)