The big chill: How to freeze your credit — literally!

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frozen credit card
Image Credit: Andy Prescott
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You’ve heard of freezing your credit, but have you ever heard of freezing your credit card?

If you’re having trouble getting control of your spending, this could be a great first step toward a cash-only lifestyle for you.

RELATED: Budgeting with cash: How to make the envelope method work in 2018

Freezing your credit card

For years, money expert Clark Howard has recommended a shock therapy kind of approach if you just can’t quit spending — literally freezing your credit card.

Now before you ask, yes, we’ve tested this out before and found that the chip in your card will work even after being frozen and unfrozen again.

If you choose to freeze your credit cards, it can be a powerful first step in getting your spending under control. Just be sure to couple this action with going to a cash-only envelope system in your life.

Here’s a step-by-step guide when you’re ready to put the big chill to work in your finances…

Step 1: Take all your cards out of your wallet

Step 2: Get your water ready

Step 3: Get your freezer bag ready

Step 4: Place card in bag with water

Step 5: Place bag in freezer

freeze your credit card

Step 6: The finished product!

frozen credit card

What’s the benefit of taking this extreme step?

The goal is to put some breathing room between you and impulse purchases.

If there is something you decide you want to buy, you can’t run to the store and purchase it immediately — unless you have the cash on hand. That’s because to access your card, you’d need to take that bag out of the freezer and let it thaw for a few hours.

The time it takes to thaw is designed as buffer zone so you can assess your potential purchase. Is it something you really need? Or is it just something you want?

If you don’t really need the purchase, having to wait for your card to thaw will make you think twice before spending the money.

One final thought: You may want to make a note of your credit card number including the CVV on the back just in case you need to do something like unexpectedly book travel in the event of a family emergency.

But if you do that, you must resist the temptation to use those digits for online shopping — or you’ve just defeated the purpose of freezing your card in the first place!

Here’s another unusual way to control your spending

In a world of ATMs, auto-drafts and debit cards, the idea of money management is so easily abstracted because we’ve lost touch with something basic — a real tactile sense of how much money is in our wallets.

Here’s one possible solution: Designer and developer John Kestner has developed a series of wallets that offer tactile clues to help us make informed financial choices.

Kestner’s wallets communicate with your cellphone via Bluetooth so they can link up with your bank to have access to account activity in near real-time.

What they do next is amazing…

One wallet called the Bumblebee buzzes to let you know when money is coming into or going out of your account.

Another billfold known as the Mother Bear is built with a hinge that progressively tightens as your bank account dwindles. The idea is to make it harder to spend money when you’re approaching your monthly budget limit!

mother bear

And there’s even a wallet called the Peacock that puffs up when your bank balance is flush with cash and shrinks as you spend that money!

proverbial wallets

Sure, these may be unusual ideas and you’d have to contact the developer directly to inquire about getting one of these wallets. But, hey, whatever it takes to get the job done of not overspending, right?

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Theo Thimou About the author:
Theo has co-written several books with Clark Howard, including the #1 New York Times bestseller "Living Large in Lean Times."
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