I recently lost my American Express card. Not a major tragedy, I know, but I have to admit I went through a variety of emotions – anger at having lost it, fear someone would find it and try to use it, frustration at the process of cancelling it and requesting a new one (not to mention changing all the things that automatically bill to the card – yoga!), and finally a strange kind of grief or loss at not having it in my hot little hands. Again, I want to acknowledge this is not a major tragedy – no one died and it will be replaced, but the process sucked. I basically went through the Kubler-Ross stages of grief over a bit of plastic! (Here is a sneak peak, if you aren’t familiar with the stages of grief: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/K%C3%BCbler-Ross_model).
Then… an interesting thing happened. I was buying less. See, my American Express is the only credit card I use. I use it for everything – I mean, everything – groceries, gas, shopping, yoga, anything and everything. I didn’t pay attention to what I was spending at all, I would just wait until the bill arrived at the end of the month, stare agape at the balance, and then pay it off. For the past seven days, I have not had my American Express and, instead, have been using my debit card. It was strange, but having to write each of these purchases down in my checkbook made me reconsider them – was it worth it? Did I really need it? Somehow using “real money” made it feel more real than slapping down a credit card.
My new Amex arrived today… I am trying to decide if we will have a new relationship or if I will snap back into old patterns. For now, I am enjoying my new awareness and hope it will continue – would couldn’t benefit from saving a little more each month?