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11 Money Mistakes You Don’t Realize You’re Making

11 Money Mistakes You Don’t Realize You’re Making

If you’ve got money and you know it, take it out your pocket and show it. *snatches money out your hand and runs.* Thanks.

Here are some other mistakes you’re making with your money.

1. You Buy Extended Warranties

I’ve worked at a variety of retail stores, and they all require every employee to push the extended warranty. They do this because it’s a sale where you’re giving them money for a product they don’t have to stock. They gain free money, because the odds of you actually using that warranty are slim. If your product lasts six months, it’ll last two years, unless you break it in a way that’s not covered by the warranty anyway.

“Use warranties that come with the product or service,” says financial expert Harrine Freeman. “Keep the original packaging and receipt so if an issue arises, you can get the item fixed without delay.”

2. You Have Too Much Insurance

You’re required by law to meet certain insurance requirements for your vehicle and any collateral loan. Insurance agents will push to give you more insurance because they’re commissioned salespeople. Whether it’s your car, home or body, don’t buy more insurance than you need, or you’re just paying to keep everyone else’s premiums low.

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Also avoid cell phone insurance at all costs – these plans are difficult to use and cancel, and they’ll often charge you more to replace your phone than the actual phone manufacturer, the retail store you bought it at, or your service provider.

3. You Pay for Free Services

You can monitor your credit report for free by getting a copy once every year, yet credit monitoring services charge you for the privilege. It’s like paying to park in a free lot (which you’ll also do if there’s an event nearby). Avoid paying for anything you can do for free.

4. You Upgrade Too Often

When Apple releases a new iPhone, people wait in line for it. Android users are getting just as bad. Usually, the upgrades are minor. Sure, I can use my phone as a projector, but how often does that really come up?

Don’t get distracted by all those shiny features – buy a phone within your budget, and hold onto it for 3-4 years. By the time you upgrade, you can get a free (or extremely cheap) phone that’s still an upgrade over your current one without paying an arm and a leg

5. You Ignore Hidden Fees

Banks make their money by charging fees. They’ll charge both you and the merchants you shop at as much as possible, and many businesses pass these fees on to customers. Shell, for example, charges you for using your card. Shell is also notorious for keeping their gas prices higher because they have a branded credit card that many people confuse for a store card. The reality is that card can be used anywhere, so use it to shop elsewhere.

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“Avoid using out-of-network ATMs,” adds Freeman. “Get enough cash from your network ATM on a weekly basis to avoid fees. Avoid multiple trips to the ATM during the week. Keep track of your bank balance to avoid overdraft fees.”

6. You Don’t Save

I’ve been on my grind since I was five years old. When I was 10, I got a paper route, and my parents made me put half of my money immediately into a savings account (which was actually an envelope in a file cabinet in their house because banks don’t give accounts to ten-year-olds). As annoying as it was, it was a great way to learn about savings

You don’t have to give up half your paycheck, but you do need to put a set amount aside. Treat your savings account as your most important bill – it’s for you, and you shouldn’t short-change yourself for the benefit of any bank, grocery store, service provider or anyone else.

7. You Overpay Taxes

I get that most people don’t understand taxes. I understand that feeling of starting the year with a huge tax refund. If you don’t have the discipline to save, it can be tempting to let the government do it for you.

The problem with this line of thinking is you’re giving the government free money. They deposit it and earn interest that could’ve been yours. You think you’re making a smart financial decision, but what you’re really doing is losing money. The ideal tax situation isn’t the huge refunds advertised by H&R Block and all the other accountants; it’s zero.

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8. You Buy Things You Don’t Need

If you can’t decide between an Xbox One and a PS4, the answer isn’t both; it’s neither. You may like purses and shoes, but you don’t need so many of them. Just because you see celebrities showing off all their swag doesn’t mean you should be doing the same thing. Learn to separate wants from needs and live within your means.

9. You Join Too Many Clubs

If you have a membership to Costco, Sam’s Club, Amazon Prime, and more, you’re wasting your money. Trying to keep up on all those frequent shopper clubs is toxic too. You’ll end up spending more on fees and unnecessary purchases than you’ll save from any of their deals. Their business model is set up specifically for this purpose.

If you’re single, consider asking a friend or family member to be added as an additional user on their account. A single person doesn’t need too many bulk items, especially perishables.

10. You Waste Food

Regardless of whether it’s bulk or single serving, don’t buy more perishable goods than you can eat. Every crumb you throw away is a crumb you paid for. You may as well just dump the contents of your wallet on the ground every time you go to the store.

Track your diet – it’s good for both your health and wealth. By focusing on your food intake, you’ll have an idea of your eating habits. This will help you make smart spending decisions at the grocery store. From there, all you have to do is cook the food you have instead of going out to eat all the time.

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11. You Lack Patience

Merchants love taking advantage of our impulse to spend money. It’s easiest to see this concept with movies. If you want to see a movie on opening night, you’re paying the highest price possible. You can’t even use a coupon because it’s a special engagement. If you want to see a movie in theaters, wait until it’s in the dollar theater. Otherwise you can see it on Redbox for $1 or Netflix for free. All you have to do is wait.

Now stop making money mistakes and start living like a shark.

Featured photo credit: Nuzree via pixabay.com

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Last Updated on January 2, 2019

How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money

How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money

Do you know what mental health experts point to as the biggest cause of stress in the United States today? If you said “money,” then ding, ding, we have a winner!

Three out of four adults today report feeling stressed out about money at least part of the time. People are either worried about not having enough money or whether they’re putting the money they do have to use in the best possible way.

Your money is either in charge of you or you’re in charge of it, there’s no middle ground. Using some type of personal finance software can help alleviate some of that money stress and better allow you to manage your money effectively. Without it, you may just be setting yourself up for constant financial worry. Life is already tough enough and there’s no need to make it more difficult by simply hoping your money issues will all work out in your favor. Hint: they won’t.

This guide will help you to understand how personal finance software can better assist with both accomplishing long term financial goals and managing day-to-day aspects of life.

Whether it’s tracking the savings plan for your child’s college fund or making sure you won’t be in the red with the month’s grocery budget, personal finance software keeps all this information in one convenient place.

What Exactly is Personal Finance Software?

Think of it like the dashboard in your car. You have a speedometer to tell you how fast you’re going, an odometer to tell you how far you’ve traveled, and then other gauges to tell you things like how much gas is in the tank and your engine temperature. Personal finance software is essentially the same thing for your money.

When you install this software on your computer, tablet, or smartphone, it helps to track your money — how much is going in, how much is going out, and its growth. Most personal finance software programs will display your budget, spending, investments, bills, savings accounts, and even retirement plans, levels of debt, and credit score.

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How It Leads to Financial Improvement

It shouldn’t come as a surprise, but people who regularly monitor their finances end up wealthier than those who don’t. When you were a kid, keeping track of all of your money in a porcelain piggy bank was pretty easy. As we get older, though, our money becomes spread out across things like car payments, mortgages, retirement funds, taxes, and other investments and debts. All of these things make keeping track of our money a lot more complicated.

Some types of personal finance software can help make things a little less complicated, setting you up to meet financial goals and taking away some of the stress associated with money.

Even if you already have a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) some type of personal finance software can be of great benefit. Whereas CFPs focus on the big picture of your money, they don’t handle the day-to-day aspects that determine your overall financial health.

It’s also not nearly as complicated as you might think and can take out a lot of the tedium that comes with doing everything on an Excel spreadsheet or with a pad and pencil.

Types of Personal Finance Software

When it comes to personal finance software, it generally fits into two categories: tax preparation and money management.

Tax preparation software such as Turbo Tax and H&R Block’s software can help with everything from filing income taxes to IRS rules and regulations and even estate plans. Plus, there’s the benefit of filing online and getting your refund check a lot faster than if you were to mail off your forms after waiting in line at the post office.

For the purpose of this article, however, will be focusing more on the personal finance software that aids with money management.

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Money management personal finance software will help you to see the health of your cash flow, pay down debt, forecast for expenses and savings, track investments, pay bills, and do a host of other things that 30 years ago would have practically required a team of accountants.

When to Use Personal Finance Software

So far we’ve gone over what exactly personal finance software is and how it can be a benefit to your money. The next logical step in this whole equation is determining when it should be used and how is the best way to go about getting started using it.

Below are four of the most common and practical ways to use personal finance software. If all or any of these apply to you and your money, then downloading some type of personal finance software is going to be a smart move.

1. You Have Multiple Accounts

There’s a good chance that when it comes to your money, it’s in more than one place. Sure, you probably have a checking account, but you may also have a savings account, money market account, and retirement accounts such as an IRA or 401k.

If you’re like the average American, you probably have two to three credit cards as well. Fifty percent of Americans also don’t have loyalty to just one bank and spread their money across multiple banks.

Rather than spending hours typing in every detail of every account you have into a spreadsheet, many programs allow you to easily import your account information. This will help to eliminate any mistakes and give you a bird’s eye view of everything at once.

2. You Want to Automate Some or All of Your Payments

Please don’t say that you’re still writing out paper checks and dropping each bill in the mailbox. While it’s noble that you’re doing your part to keep postal workers employed, we’re 18 years into the 21st century and you can literally pay every bill online now.

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There’s no need to log into every account you have and type in your routing number either.

With personal finance software you can schedule automatic payments and transfers between all of your imported accounts. Automatic transfers will help to make sure you have the necessary funds in the right account to ensure all bills are paid on the appropriate date. Late fees are annoying and do nothing but cost you money. It’s time that you said goodbye to them once and for all.

3. You Need to Streamline Your Budget

Perhaps the best feature of personal finance software is that it allows you track everything going in and out of your virtual wallet.

Nearly every brand of personal finance software out there has easy-to-read graphs and charts that allow you track every cent you spend or earn, should you choose. You might be pretty amazed when you see just how much you spent on eating out last month or if you splurged a little more than you should have on Christmas gifts last year.

Every successful business on the planet has a budget and using personal finance software can help you trim the fat on your spending in ways that affect your everyday life.

4. You Have Specific Goals to Meet

Maybe it’s paying off debt or saving for up something like a European vacation. Whatever your financial goal is, whether it’s long-term or short-term, personal finance software programs are one of the savviest ways to go about reaching those goals.

You can do everything from set spending alerts to notify you when you’re over budget to automating what percentage of your paycheck goes to things like retirement investments. The personal finance software that you choose should show you exactly how close you are to hitting those goals at any given time.

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How to Get Started

From AceMoney to Mint and Quicken, there ’s no shortage of personal finance software apps out there. Many of these programs are free to download and will allow you to pay bills, invest, monitor your net worth and credit profile, and even get a loan with the swipe of a finger.

Other programs may only offer you limited services and will require a one-time fee or subscription to unlock all that they offer. These fees can often vary from as little as two dollars to 50 bucks a month.

It’s best to start off with the free version and then gauge whether you’re able to accomplish everything you’d like or if it’s worth exploring one of the paid options. Often times the subscription programs come with assistance from financial planning and investment experts — so that can be a real benefit.

When deciding which personal finance software program to use, it’s also important to look at how many accounts you wish to monitor. Certain programs limit the number of accounts you can add. Be sure that if you have checking, credit card, and investment accounts to monitor, that you choose a service that can monitor them all.

Finally, when looking around for the right personal finance software that meets your needs, make sure that you’re comfortable with the program’s interface. It shouldn’t be expected that you recognize every single feature instantly, but if the features don’t seem readable and manageable to you, then you’re not as likely to use it and get the full benefits.

Final Thoughts

Personal finance software can go a long way in helping you to take control of your money and meeting your financial goals. It’s important to note, however, that some focus more on budgeting and expense tracking while others prioritize investing portfolios and income taxes. Explore several different programs and read reviews to find the one that’s right for you.

In this day and age, managing one’s personal finances in a secure manner that allows the user to have a real-time visual representation of their money is easier than ever before. With the numerous applications that are out there — both free and subscription-based — there’s no reason that every person can’t take control of their money and ensure they’re making smart money moves.

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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