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>> I'll give you a qualified "sometimes" in response to this. This is something that I can control, but I have to watch myself. There have been times when I've caught myself buying more than planned. One of the techniques I've used is to pay cash for groceries for a few weeks, to retrain myself to get just cottage cheese and bread if I go into the store specifically for cottage cheese and bread.

Second anecdote: I have a sister who can squeeze a nickel so hard that it bleeds. She reports that she noticed herself spending more on a debit card than when paying by check. In her opinion, this was totally irrational because she was recording the purchase in her check register and deducting the money in either case; but it didn't feel as much like spending if she swiped the debit card. So she put the debit card away and went back to paying by check.

I think people need to ask themselves at the time they check out if they would really be buying all this stuff if they paid by cash or check. If they can't honestly answer "yes," and believe it, they should put the plastic away and get the checkbook out -- putting back what they wouldn't be buying. The problem is that is requires willpower AND being honest with yourself, which means a lot of folks would have problems with this approach. It is these people, IMO, whom Ramsey targets by suggesting they should never "rationalize" use of credit cards.

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