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20 Common Money Mistakes To Avoid

20 Common Money Mistakes To Avoid

Ever wonder where all your money goes right after payday? Spending money is way too easy. It is so easy that it makes saving it look extremely hard! It is very simple to save money though it isn’t something that happens over night, you need to work on changing a few habits. There are several steps you can take to help you along the way on the road to financial success. You don’t need to be a mathematician to sit down and take an hour to analyze your spending and income to create a budget.

You can start by stepping back and going over your bank statements, or have an app categorize them for you. Divide them up into sections such as fast food, bank fees, bills, etc. When you actually take a look at what you spend and have an actual dollar amount on things, it will open your eyes. After you have seen where you spend your money, it would be best to set a budget.

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To set a budget, you need to compare how much you are spending and how much you actually make. Set money aside to take care of yourself and your well-being first. This will include expenses like your bills (food, utilities, rent) and putting money aside in a retirement fund. From there make sure you give yourself an allowance because, well, living frugally is not fun.

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After you have set some money aside for your well being, your fun money fund, and your savings, you need to make sure that you are thinking about your debt to income ratio. Take a look at all what you owe everyone and how much time and money it will take to pay them back. A majority of these expenses are going to be credit card companies and student/bank loans. The sooner you pay it off the better it will look in your bank account and also on your credit report. Don’t pretend that credit isn’t something that affects you, it affects everyone. So don’t cancel all your credit cards once you pay them off, keep them open. An open line of unused credit looks good if you are looking to buy a house or a car in the near future. Saving for the down payment and the interest will be a lot better.

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Some of you are thinking that the Fun Money Fund (FMF) is a little ridiculous, but it is necessary! You want to make saving easier so that you will keep doing it. You have lived off an allowance before for things that aren’t a necessity (most of the time it was no more than twenty dollars here and there) and you can do it as an adult. Want your FMF to grow? Pay off more of your debt and you will have a little wiggle room. Seventy five percent of that monthly payment to unnecessary bills and services could be going to other areas that need to be paid off, and the other twenty five percent of it can go into your FMF!

You may be thinking, where can I get the extra money from to pay the rest of my bills? The answer is in cutting back spending in your daily habits. Here are some common money mistakes people make everyday. See if any of them sound familiar:

  1. You keep putting off paying off your credit card debt

  2. You don’t have a savings account for emergencies

  3. You go grocery shopping when you’re hungry

  4. You enjoy frequent shopping for retail therapy

  5. You don’t maintain an allowance for fun spending

  6. You don’t define the difference between want vs. need

  7. You never read fine print

  8. You’re always trying to keep up with trends and fashions

  9. You’d consider going into debt for a wedding

  10. You prefer to buy a meal instead of preparing it

  11. You haven’t made a plan before taking out a student loan

  12. You don’t think you need to have a budget

  13. You haven’t been paying attention to your credit score

  14. You buy items based on the price and not the quality

  15. You spend more than you make

  16. You want to get a larger house and mortgage than you need

  17. You are dependent on one source of income

  18. You’re not saving for retirement

  19. You replace things that aren’t broken

  20. You’re not paying attention to your debt to income ratio

Featured photo credit: 401(K) 2012/mmoney via flickr.com

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Margielyn Musser

Event And Volunteer Coordinator / World Traveler

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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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