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18 Things Financially Mature People Don’t Do

18 Things Financially Mature People Don’t Do

Jaws dropped during that classic scene in the 1995 movie Sabrina. Sabrina’s father is revealed to be more than just a quiet chauffeur with a passion for good books. He’s shockingly a millionaire! How did he accrue such wealth on a presumably modest salary? By imitating the investing habits of his prosperous employer. You too can learn from financially mature people. You can avoid costly mistakes by watching what they do – and perhaps more importantly, what they don’t do.

1. They don’t spend more than they make

A recent Yahoo Finance study found that “fewer than half of Americans are spending less than they earn.” This problem is compounded by high credit card interest rates. If you’re finding it difficult to stick to a budget, try switching to cash as your currency. This will quickly stop the bleeding because once cash is gone the spending has to stop.

2. They don’t wait until the end of the month to see how their money is doing

Credit card bills should be formalities, not surprises. Expense tracking apps (or a pen and paper) help you stay on top of your money.

3. They don’t pay for subscriptions they aren’t using

Gym memberships, magazine subscriptions, and season tickets to your favorite team’s games are great – if you actually use them. Spend some time going through your credit card statement and cancel a few forgotten subscriptions. Chances are, you won’t miss them.

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4. They don’t overlook small expenses

Small expenses add up. Look for opportunities to reduce them. Relax the air conditioning when you leave the house, turn off the lights in an empty room, use a refillable water bottle instead of buying a new case every week.

5. They don’t automatically spend “surprise money”

Tax returns and birthday money don’t have to be spent the day they’re received. Put some in savings, or use it to pay off debt.

6. They don’t use shopping to help them feel better

Shark Tank’s Kevin O’Leary argues that “retail therapy” should be avoided altogether. But come on now. We’re the species that invented sugarless candy – surely we can redeem the post-break up shopping spree? Here’s an idea: When heartbreak or frustration beckons you to the mall, think of one item you actually need. Maybe it’s a new pair of work shoes or a birthday gift for a friend. Set a “budget” for yourself and take only the CASH for that item. Then, enjoy a little shopping.

7. They don’t gift shop at the last minute

It happens to the best of us. We remember a birthday or anniversary with mere hours to spare. Then we’re off the nearest store in search of a last-minute gift and in our panic, we buy something expensive to hide the fact that we don’t have a card and the gift isn’t wrapped. Gifts are given to express love and affection. Shopping a little sooner can help you find a thoughtful, less expensive gift that shows how much you care. 

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8. They don’t eat out every meal

A recent experiment conducted by the Boston Globe found one home cooked meal cost half the price of a comparable restaurant meal.

9. They don’t waste leftovers

One of the easiest ways to make eating out more affordable is to simply save your leftovers. You can turn one meal into two.

10. They don’t let purchased food expire

Throwing away food is throwing away money. If you struggle with stinky fridge syndrome, try making more frequent trips to the grocery store. Buy exactly what you’ll need for the next 2 or 3 days, instead of “stocking up” for the week or the month.

11. They don’t spend money without stopping to think

Have you ever examined an old purchase and wondered, “What was I thinking?” Financially mature people ask the right question: “Do I absolutely love this?” Skip this step, and you’ll find yourself in need of a garage sale.

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12. They don’t buy clothes they won’t wear regularly

Closet full of clothes yet “nothing to wear”? Save space and money by searching for versatile pieces you can’t wait to show off. Here’s a minimalist who’s happy to show you how (with photos).

13. They don’t buy something just because it’s a discount

An old episode of The Lucy Show poked fun at this common mistake. Lucy chided her friend for buying a 50lb bag of dog food. Her friend defended herself saying “that was half price.” To which Lucy hilariously replied, “You don’t have a dog!” If you find yourself thinking “These shoes are half off, and they’re not that bad,” take the money and buy a pair of shoes you actually like. You’re more likely to get some use out of them.

14. They don’t buy anything without asking the price

It’s an old trick. Selling stuff without ever mentioning the price and it works, because we’re often too embarrassed to ask how much something costs. We don’t want anyone thinking we’re poor, but we have it backwards. Poor is what you’ll be if you don’t ask the hard questions.

15. They don’t avoid expenses that save them trouble and money in the future

Getting the oil changed may be annoying, but it’s cheaper than a new car. Getting your teeth cleaned may be uncomfortable, but would you rather have a root canal? When you’re trying to cut back on spending, trim from the fat, not the essentials.

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16. They don’t buy into get rich quick schemes

When people really do strike proverbial gold, they probably don’t tell the world about it in a “business opportunity” seminar. Financially mature people know that wealth comes through hard work and good choices over time.

17. They don’t forget to set financial goals

Without a clear goal and a doable plan, people tend to stay right where they are. Good goals illuminate the path between where you are and where you want to be.

18. They don’t let past mistakes keep them from improving

Peek at the statistics and you’ll quickly learn most of us aren’t very good with money. With practice, patience, and persistence, you can grow into financial maturity. You just have to get started. There’s an old saying. If you want a big oak tree in your backyard, the best time to plant it was 20 years ago. The second best time? Right now. Use these tips to start imitating the financially mature. Because let’s face it. Life’s more fun when there’s some money in the bank.

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Kyle Young

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Last Updated on March 4, 2019

How to Use Credit Cards While Staying Out of Debt

How to Use Credit Cards While Staying Out of Debt

Many people will suggest that the best thing to do with your credit cards during these tough economic times is to cut them up with a pair of scissors. Indeed, if you are already in huge debt, you probably should stop using them and begin a payback strategy immediately. However, if you are not currently in trouble with your credit cards, there are wise ways to use them.

I happen to really love my credit cards so I will share with you my approach to how I use mine without getting into deep financial trouble.

Ever since about 1983 when I got my first Visa card, I continue to charge as many of my purchases as possible on credit. Everything from gas, groceries and monthly payments for services like my cable and home security monitoring are charged on credit. Despite my heavy usage, I have maintained the joy of never paying any interest fees at all on any of my credit cards.

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Here are some tips on how best to use your credit cards without falling into the trap of paying those nasty double-digit interest fees.

Do Not Treat Credit Cards as Your Funding Sources

Too many people treat their credit cards as funding sources for major purchases. Do not do this if you want to stay out of trouble. I use my credit cards as convenient financial instruments so I do not have to carry around much cash. In fact, I hate carrying cash, especially coins. When you buy things on credit, the purchases are clean and you will not get annoying coins back as change.

I do not rely on my Visa, MasterCard or American Express to fund any of my purchases, large or small. This brings me to my golden rule when it comes to whether I will pull out any of my credit cards either at a retail or online store.

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I never purchase anything with my credit cards if I do not have the actual cash on hand in my bank account.

If I really cannot pay for the item or service with cash that I already have at the bank, then I simply will not make the purchase. Remember, my credit cards are not used as funding sources. They are just convenient alternatives to actual cash in my pocket.

Make Sure to Always Pay Off Balances in Full Each Month

The next very important part of my overall strategy is to make absolutely sure that I pay the balances in full each and every month no matter how large they are. This should never be a problem if the cash has been budgeted for my purchases and secured in the bank. I have always paid my full balances each month ever since my very first credit card and this is why I never pay interest charges.

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Using Credit Cards with Rewards

Most of my credit cards are of the “no annual fees” type, including one MasterCard on a separate account I keep at home as a spare in case I lose my wallet or incur any fraudulent charges. However, I do use a main Visa card which does have an annual fee because all purchases on that card reward me with airline frequent flyer points. For me, the annual fee is worth it since I do travel and I get enough points to redeem many free flights.

You have to decide for yourself if you will charge enough purchases on credit each year without paying interest charges to warrant a credit card that rewards you with airline points (or other rewards). In my case, the answer is “yes” but that might not be the case for you.

I occasionally use a MasterCard or American Express card on small purchases just to keep those accounts active. Also, I have been to the odd retailer that accepted only a certain type of credit card, so I find that having one from each major company is quite handy. Aside from my main Visa card which earns the airline points, the rest of my cards are of the “no annual fees” variety.

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So this is how I use my credit cards without getting into any financial trouble with them. This strategy is recommended only if you are not in debt, of course. In fact, it is worth keeping in mind once you’re out of debt so that you can keep your credit cards active and treat them responsibly.

What are your credit card usage strategies? Let me know in the comments — I’d love to hear what methods you use.

Featured photo credit: Artem Bali via unsplash.com

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