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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

Operations Manager, GoinsWriter

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Published on September 17, 2018

How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

Achieving financial success is not something that just happens. Maybe if you win the lottery or something, but for the average person like you or me, it comes from a series of small steps you take over a long period of time.

With each step, you form a new smart money habit. And with each smart money habit, you build towards financial independence.

So what sort of habits can you form to get on that path? Let’s take a look at smart money habits you can start today to get you closer to a financially independent future.

1. Avoid being “penny wise but pound foolish”

It’s tempting to try saving a couple cents here and there when buying small items. However, that’s not where the real money is saved. You’re putting in extra effort for something that doesn’t move the needle.

You get the most bang when you’re able to cut down on your bigger bills. For example, finding a lower interest rate for your mortgage could save you $50+ per month. And cutting your transportation bill by purchasing a cheaper car or taking public transportation can provide large gains as well.

So, look at your recurring expenses such as housing, transportation, and insurance, and see where there’s wiggle room. It’s a much better use of your time than trying to pinch pennies here and there on smaller purchases.

2. When you want something big, wait

Impulsivity can get you in trouble in most aspects of life. Finances are no different.

It’s human nature to see something and want it right then and there. It starts as a kid in the checkout line at the grocery store, and it continues on through adulthood.

We get an idea in our head of something we want, and it’s hard not to go out and get it right then.

A good example is wanting a new car. Perhaps you’ve had your car for several years. It’s crossed the 100k mile mark. Maybe maintenance is due, and you’re annoyed that you need to replace the timing belt or purchase new tires.

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So, you get the itch.

You start digging around online, and you realize you could trade in your current car for something newer and more exciting… all for a few hundred bucks a month. Then you get obsessed.

Here’s where you have to take a step back.

Your newfound obsession is clouding your judgement. Rather than giving into the impulse, wait it out.

Set a timeframe for yourself. Maybe you come back to the decision three months down the road. See if the obsession lasts.

It might, but often, a funny thing happens. Often, you forget about it. And often, you find that the new car wasn’t a need at all.

The impulse faded. And you just saved yourself a ton of money.

3. Live smaller than you can afford

You finally get that big raise. And you want to celebrate – and why not?

You’ve been looking forward to this forever. And after all, it was all due to your hard work.

That’s fine, splurge a little. However, make it a one-time deal and be done.

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Don’t get caught in the trap that just because you’re now making more money, you should spend more.

Too often, people get more money and feel like they that gives them the means to buy a bigger house, a bigger car… you know the drill. Resist.

The fact is that living smaller than what you can afford is one of the fastest ways to build savings.

But if you constantly upgrade as you begin to make more, then you’ll never get ahead. You’ll just build up more debt along the way and have just as little wiggle room as before.

4. Practice smart grocery shopping

Food… it’s one of the biggest portions of any budget. And if you’re not careful, it can be one of the biggest drains on your wallet.

But luckily, there are a few things you can do to ensure that you stay smart with your money when buying groceries.

Create a grocery budget

Set a strict weekly grocery budget. When you know how much you can spend on groceries, you can then plan your weekly menu around it.

Once you know what all you need, you can go shopping and keep a running tally as you shop to ensure you’re on track.

I tend to do this in my head, rounding for each item. However, writing it down as you go would probably work best for most people.

Make a list… and never deviate

Never go to the grocery store without a list. If you go to the store with a ballpark idea in mind, you don’t have a true ide of what you need.

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You’re not well-researched. You don’t know what the sales are. As a result, you’re going to make decisions on the fly.

These impulse decisions will lead to overspending, which will derail your grocery budget.

Eat before going grocery shopping

It’s also important to eat prior to going to the grocery store. Hunger is a powerful force.

If you’re shopping on an empty stomach, everything is going to look good. In particular, you may find a lot of ready-made, processed snacks will look enticing.

After all, you’re hungry now and that food is easily available. So subconsciously, you may lean towards those items.

Unfortunately, not only are those items typically less healthy, but they’re likely more expensive. You pay for convenience.

However, when you eat prior to shopping, then you’ll shop with a clear mind. Your hunger won’t cloud your judgement, influencing you to make poor decisions like a cartoon devil resting on your shoulder whispering in your ear.

This makes it much easier to stick to your grocery plan.

5. Cancel your gym membership

Now that you’re all set on your food, it’s time to get smart about managing your budget in terms of physical fitness. And let’s begin by avoiding the gym. The gym bill, that is.

The average gym membership costs around $60 per month. That’s $720 a year.

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Yet, two out of three gym memberships go unused. That means two-thirds of people who have a gym membership are literally giving away almost a thousand bucks a year. It’s crazy!

I recommend seeking an alternative. One good alternative is to look into fitness streaming services.

Streaming services allow you to stream hundreds of workouts like Insanity and p90x, right in your own home for around $10-20 a month. That’s $40-50 less a month than the average gym membership.

Of course, then there’s the free option. The internet is full of free workouts that you can do on your own with minimal or no equipment.

For example, there’s the Couch to 5K program, that I personally used a decade ago to ease myself from couch potato to running my first 5K race. If I could do it, anyone could.

Then there are free resources like reddit that have limitless information on workouts. The Fitness subreddit has done all the research for you, populating workout tips and detailed workout routines for anyone to use in their wiki.

There are several routines that require no equipment. And you can join in on the subreddit to become part of the community, making it easier for those seeking comraderie and encouragement in their fitness goals. All for free.

It’s baby steps… And baby steps can start now!

I’ve never met anyone that can’t stand to be a bit smarter with their money. And on the flip side, anyone can get smarter with their money. But remember, it doesn’t happen all at once.

Begin by fighting your impulses. Prepare for the week and be smart at the store. And cut monthly expenses like gym memberships that are overpriced and you probably aren’t getting your money’s worth out of anyway.

The devil is in the details. And the details can change your lifestyle and prep you for a financially independent future.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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