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10 Habits That You Don’t Realize Are Costing You

10 Habits That You Don’t Realize Are Costing You

You may not realize it, but some things you do habitually can make you lose money. Let’s see what those costing habits are and how we can reverse them.

1. You are a chronic complainer

If you always see the bad side, then you might not see the opportunities around you. When you miss opportunities, you inevitably lose money.

For example, if you are too busy complaining to yourself about how your co-worker sucks, you might not think that you would be a great fit for that new project that just came out. Yes, the one that would boost your resume and possibly lead to a promotion. Opportunity lost.

2. You don’t exercise

Here’s a weird benefit of exercise: people who exercise at least three times a week make 9% more than their non-exerciser coworkers.

Not already exercising? Keep your chin up. A habit-making program like Exercise Bliss could start forming you into a regular exerciser starting next Monday.

3. You think you would never spend this much money, and then spend it

My friend and NYT best-selling author Ramit Sethi likes making fun of people who think they will never spend, e.g. $30,000 on a wedding. But when time comes, and it’s their turn to get married, they spend it.

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I’m not criticizing spending money on your wedding here. I’m just saying that had you accounted for the “having a big wedding” scenario, you might have saved more in the past, and hence not need to get into credit card debt.

4. You don’t negotiate

From negotiating the price of your car, to negotiating your salary, you have a lot of potential to save thousands of dollars. Yet beware, negotiating is not something most people are skilled at. I recommend buying books and then spending 1000x more time actually practicing the books’ teachings with a friend.

That’s how you’ll walk into a negotiation with confidence and ready to tackle anything that comes your way.

5. You think short-term vs. long-term

We often don’t really take into account the effect of our actions in the long run. For example, you not negotiating a $5k increase in salary does not just cost you $5k this yea, but maybe next year as well.

In your next job interview, the employer will try to pay you according to your past salary. Your negotiating position will start from $5k less than what it could have.

And that just compounds as years go by. Thousands of dollars lost, because of an innocent, missed $5k negotiation.

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6. You think “I can’t do it” instead of “How can I do it?”

You can make more money at your current job. You can negotiate more, or improve your skills and then ask for a raise.

Or, you could make more money on the side. Or, you can start your own business.

The options are infinite. The more you’re stuck on “can’t”, the more you’ll be losing money that you could have earned had you not had this bad “can’t” habit.

Start with Appsumo’s Make your first dollar, and you might be surprised with the results.

7. You avoid saying “no”

Your sister asks you for money. She never gives the money back, but you still just can’t say “no.”

You keep lending money, or buying dinner for your friends, just because saying “no” is easier than paying. I’m not saying that “no” should come easy. But I am proposing to be conscious about why you do what you do.

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Regardless of whether you are a guy or a girl, I definitely recommend the book Lucky Bitch by Denise Thomas. Those unconscious patterns will rise to the surface right away!

8. You confuse your account balance with your self-worth

The balance on your account is just a number. Yet, we tend to be emotional with that number. When this balance is not up to our standards, we may feel shame and self-pity.

That’s exactly what overweight–or even thin–people feel when on the scale. The number on the scale feels like it describes their self-worth, when it doesn’t!

The result of this confusion is that you might be afraid to even open up those new bills. Or, you might avoid dealing with your debt because it’s just way too scary to do so.

But the good news is that it’s just a number–it doesn’t have anything to do with who you are.

9. You don’t take your emotions into account when paying off debt

Not knowing how to pay off your debt can hold you back and make you pay it off more slowly. Man vs. Debt advises: start with the debt that you most want to get rid of.

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Not the debt that costs you the most, the debt that you really want to cross of your list. Why? Because your emotions matter. Because if paying off your debt doesn’t give a feeling of relief, then you’re just not going to be as good at it.

10. You buy stuff without understanding why

In Money: A Love Story author Kate Northrup urges us to understand what made us make each purchase. First, we look at our credit card statement. Were our purchases good ones, or are there any purchases that we would have been better off without?

Once we complete this step, we move on to step two. How did we feel when we made each purchase?

If you actually do this step, you might find out that the purchases you made while feeling bad, needy, or lacking, are not the ones you are proud of.

Next time you are about to buy something that you MUST have, ask yourself: “Why do you really want this?” Are you, e.g., buying a coat because you actually need it, or are you buying a coat in the hope that your new friends will like you better?

Now it’s your turn to let me know: Do you have any of the above costing habits? If yes, what will you do to reduce it, or even better, get rid of it?

More by this author

Maria Brilaki

Maria helps people create habits that stick not just for a month or two but for years and decades.

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Published on May 7, 2019

How to Invest for Retirement (The Smart and Stress-Free Way)

How to Invest for Retirement (The Smart and Stress-Free Way)

When it comes to stocks, I bet you feel like you have no idea what you’re doing.

Everyone who’s not a financial expert has been there. I’ve been there. But, time is passing and you need to be crystal clear with how you’re investing for your retirement.

Otherwise, it’s back to work until you can afford not to. So, how can you invest for retirement when you’re not a financial expert?

You take the time to learn the fundamentals well. If you do, you can grow your wealth and retire happy. The best part is that you don’t need to be a financial expert to make smart investment decisions.

Here’s how to invest for retirement the smart and stress-free way:

1. Know Clearly Why You Invest

Odds are you already know why should invest for retirement.

But, maybe you know the wrong reasons. It’s time you get clear on why you’d like to retire. Here are some questions to help you get started:

  • Will you spend more time with your family?
  • What does retirement mean to you?
  • Are you looking to launch that business you’ve been holding off for years?

Everyone wants to retire but not for the same reasons. Once you’re clear for why retirement is important for you, you’ll focus on making it happen.

Investing in the stock market allows you to take advantage of compound interest.[1] All this means is that your money earns money on top of its interest. A reason why investment in the stock market is one of the best ways to plan for retirement.

2. Figure out When to Invest

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”– Chinese Proverb

It’s true if you’d had started investing when you were 10 years old, you’d have a lot more money than you do today.

The reality is that most people don’t start investing until it’s too late. So, if you’re currently waiting for the perfect time to start an investment, it would be today. Open your calendar and block out 2 to 3 hours to choose how you’ll invest for retirement.

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A quick way to get a snapshot of where you stand is to use Personal Capital. Input all your personal information and spend some time setting your retirement goals. Once completed, you’ll know where you stand with your retirement.

Having a savings account for retirement isn’t planning for retirement. Why? Your money loses value when you factor in US inflation.[2]

3. Evaluate Your Risk Tolerance to Create the Perfect Portfolio

Investing your money well depends on your emotions.

Why?

Because when the market drops most people panic and withdraw their money. On average, the US stock market yields an annual 6% to 7% ROI (return on your investment.) But, this won’t happen if you’re worried about short-term loses.

Before you invest your next dollar, know your risk tolerance.[3] Your risk tolerance determines the number of risky and safe investments you’d have.

Regardless of your investing style, you need to view investing for retirement as a long term game. Know that some years you’ll lose money but recoup this in the long-term.

Avoid watching market-related new. Also, create a double authentication to log in your investment account. This way you’re less likely to withdraw your money.

4. Open a Reliable Retirement Account

Depending on your circumstance, you may need to open a new brokerage account. This is the account is where you’ll invest your money.

If you’re currently working for a company, odds are that they offer a 410K investing account. If so, here’s where you’ll invest most of your money. The only problem with this is that you’re limited to the stock options that are available.

You do have the option to open a separate IRA (individual retirement account.) Here are some of the best brokers:

  1. Vanguard
  2. TD Ameritrade
  3. Charles Schwab

5. Challenge Yourself to Invest Consistently

Committing to invest for retirement is hard, but continuing to do so is harder.

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Once you’ve started investment for your retirement, you run at risk from stopping. Often you’ll want to contribute less, so you’d have more money in your pocket.

That’s why it’s important that you create a budget that allows you to invest each month. If you’re working for a company, you can set a percentage for the amount you’d like to contribute each month. Most people by default contribute 1% but aim to contribute 10% to 15%.

Be the judge for how much you can afford to contribute after covering important expenses. To stay motivated, use Personal Capital to view your net worth.

A benefit to contributing money to your retirement account is not taxed. For example, if you earn $100 and invest 10%, you’d contribute $10, then get taxed on the remaining $90. As of 2019, the most you’re able to contribute towards your 401K is 19K but this can change.

6. Consider Where to Invest Your Money

The most common way to invest your money is in stocks, but it’s not the only way. Here are other ways to invest:

Robo Advisors

Robo-advisors[4] are fancy algorithms that’ll choose the best investments for you. Sites like Wealthfront make it easy for first-time investors to invest their money. You’d input information about yourself and set your risk tolerance.

Then, set your monthly contribution amount and your robo-advisor would do the rest. Robo-advisors charge a fee to manage your money, but less than regular advisors.

Bonds

Think of bonds as “IOUs” to whomever you buy them from.

Essentially, you’re lending money and charging interest. Like stocks, not all bonds are equal. Some will be riskier than others depending on their rating.

Here are the different types of bond categories:[5]

  1. Treasury bonds
  2. Government bonds
  3. Corporate bonds
  4. Foreign bonds
  5. Mortgage-backed bonds
  6. Municipal bonds

Mutual Funds

Picture a group of people dumping all their money in a jar that’s managed by a professional. This is how mutual funds work. The fund manager manages the money looking to earn capital gains (interest.)

One of the best types of mutual funds is index funds. Since these funds don’t try to beat the market and instead follow it, they need less research. Because of this they often charge the lowest fees and yield the best long-term results.

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Real Estate

Yes, buying a home is an investment when done correctly.

Imagine buying a home and using it as a rental property. After repairing it, you receive a monthly surplus check of $100 to $200.

This may not sound like a lot, but repeat this process enough times and you’d earn a large amount of passive income. That’s why real estate is one of the best investments to not only retire but become wealthy.

But, it requires a lot of money to start and you should expect losing money along the way as you learn the process.

Savings Accounts

Your money can still grow in a savings account. Nowadays most online banks offer a 2% annual return. Although the average inflation is higher your money will be available when you need it.

7. Master Disincline to Dodge Short Success

Investing for retirement is a long-term strategy. That’s why you need to master delayed gratification. All this means is delaying short-term pleasure for something bigger in the future. Research shows that those who have delayed gratification are more successful.[6]

So how can you master delayed gratification?

By building your discipline.

Think back to what retirement means to you. A clear purpose will help you avoid withdrawing your money during a market downturn. It’ll help you contribute more towards retirement when you’d want to waste it instead.

Your journey towards retirement will be long, so reward yourself along the way. Choose a reward that’s relevant and meaningful, so that you reinforce positive behavior. For example, after contributing more towards retirement, treat yourself to dinner.

8. Aggressively Invest on This One Investment

I’ve mentioned several types of investments but haven’t covered the most important one.

It sounds cliche but here’s why you’re your best investment towards retirement. The more you know, the more money you’ll be able to make. The more good habits you adopt, the more secure your retirement will be.

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More importantly, investing in yourself is an investment that no one can take away. There’s no market downturn nor tragic circumstance that’ll wipe your knowledge and experience.

But, how can you invest yourself?

Reading books, blogs, and anything that’ll help you learn new topics daily. Listen to podcasts and audiobooks on your commute to/from work.

Save money to buy courses and hire coaches. I used to believe hiring coaches was a waste of money when I could learn the subject alone.

But, coaches see your blind spots and hold you accountable. Hiring the right coach will help you achieve your goals faster than you would’ve alone.

Retire Happy with Excess Money

The key to a secure financial future doesn’t only belong to financial experts.

It’s possible for you and I. What if you were able to retire earlier than most people and weren’t a financial planner? What if you were able to focus on what you enjoy doing the most while your money was working hard for you?

I know this sounds impossible now, but the truth is you’re capable of taking charge of your retirement. I’m not a financial expert but I’ve learned how to invest my money by reading books and learning from others.

Investing your money is scary. So start small and invest a small amount of your money with a robo-advisor. Feel your money drop and rise for a month or two. Then, invest more and keep this up until you’re aggressively saving for retirement.

One day, you’ll wake up with a net worth you’re proud of – confident about your retirement. You now know a few strategies you can use to invest in your retirement. Will you take action to retire happy?

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Featured photo credit: Matthew Bennett via unsplash.com

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