One of the most popular suggestions for people trying to cure themselves from overspending with credit cards is to freeze credit cards in a block of ice. It’s a cute approach to removing the temptation to overspend. It’s a fun concept to consider. You can make an event out of the freezing process. Invite your wife or husband and your kids to help. Partly fill a bowl with water, freeze the bowl for a few hours, drop in your credit cards and continue filling the bowl with water, place the bowl back in the freezer, and check back in a few hours. The result is a block of ice with credit cards securely frozen in the middle.
The block of ice prevents you from carrying the credit cards in your wallet or bag. You won’t have them with you, so, in theory, you won’t be able to give in to the temptation to spend. If you do need them in an emergency, you can go home, break the block of ice, and present a wet card. The frozen cards aren’t completely inaccessible, they’re just inconvenient.
It’s a nice gimmick, but this just isn’t a good long-term solution in reality.
- Overspending can be an addiction. Certain activities are addictive because they trigger the brain’s pleasure centers. For individuals whose spending habits have become so bad they need to continue buying things to feel good, a block of ice is not going to get in the way of having a good time. Not everyone’s spending habit approaches the level of addiction, though. For many, a block of ice will work as a deterrent, but it won’t last forever.
- Freezing a credit card doesn’t solve the desire to spend on credit. Removing the ability to fulfill a negative desire, such as spending to the point where income can’t cover the purchases on a long-term basis, doesn’t address the root cause. Anyone who is a compulsive credit spender needs to address the issue directly. Sometimes, spenders need to seek professional help. Again, not every over-spender’s behavior is damaging enough to warrant outside assistance.
- The block of ice can’t always be the first step. When people hear the advice to freeze their credit cards, they may find the idea innovative and clever, and jump to this approach before carefully considering their financial situation. If income is a problem, quitting credit cards cold turkey isn’t going to work. You can’t tell the parents of a family of several children to stop buying food if they have no income. Some situations call for a gradual reduction of credit card spending.
What do you think? Is the concept of literally freezing your credit cards a gimmick without proven effectiveness or is it a great idea for resisting the temptation to spend?
Photo: Jökull Sólberg Auðunsson
Published or updated June 30, 2011.