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7 Financial Mistakes You Don’t Need To Make Anymore

7 Financial Mistakes You Don’t Need To Make Anymore

Financial stress affects every aspect of your life. We are living in a society where we can just charge, charge, and charge. It seems like we are never satisfied. There will always be the latest gadgets, cars, and fashion to buy. With so many options, it’s easy to make financial mistakes. These mistakes will get you out of your depth and ultimately take control of your life. Read on for seven common financial mistakes and make sure you don’t ever make them again.

1. Paying unnecessary ATM or bank fees.

Banks are established to make money. With so much going on in life, it’s easy to not check your accounts on daily basis. This financial mistake is common and can really become a problem. ATM and bank fees add up over time, and if you’re not aware of how many fees your bank is charging, you will continue to lose money. Speak with a representative from your bank and be clear what the ATM and bank fees are. This will help you avoid unnecessary fees. Furthermore, you may want to check out some banks that literally have no fees, like Capital One 360 or Charles Schwab.

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2. Ordering too much take out.

Let’s face it: we have busy lifestyles. We can have a very hard day at work and come home late. When this happens it’s very difficult to be motivated to cook a nutritious meal. It is so much easier to just order take out on the way home. Nutritional value aside (this could be a whole other topic!), the price of ordering take out on a regular basis can seriously add up over time. Sometimes Chinese food can be from $10, $12, and sometimes even $15. And who doesn’t love ordering Chinese food every once and a while? Just keep in mind, you could spend that same money and buy something like the ingredients for a healthy pasta from the grocery store. Aim for things that allow you to cook enough for leftovers. You can always bring leftovers to work on your way out the next morning. Leftovers = One Free Meal = You Save Money.

3. Not telling your money where to go.

Money was meant for spending. What’s the point of having money if you don’t eventually spend it? Most of us understand this; it’s probably instinctual. We see money in our account, and we usually have an inclination to spend it. If you don’t tell every penny of your money where to go, there is a very good chance it will disappear. The crazy thing is, most of the time money disappears by small, seemingly insignificant purchases that add up, like ordering take out or eating fast food, magazine subscriptions, clothes, movies, etc.

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In a nutshell, the best thing to do with your finances is to calculate how much income you make and subtract the total amount of your bills and your expenses throughout the month. In your expenses, if you can, be sure to specifically allot a certain amount of “fun money” for yourself, which allows you go out and buy magazines and clothes, etc. If there is any remaining money after you subtract your expenses and bills from your income, put that aside for some savings goals.

4. Never making priorities in life to decide where your money should go.

It’s crazy to think that so many people rarely, if ever, stop and actually think about what things in life make us happy. It makes sense to spend money on the things that make us happy, right? Unfortunately, many people live on autopilot and continue to let their money slip away from them on small, insignificant things that ultimately don’t matter. Don’t make this mistake! Instead make happiness a priority and organize your finances so you can spend money on things that will be fulfilling to you. It doesn’t have to be expensive, either. It could be as simple as just paying a baby sitter so you can spend a few hours of quality time with your spouse.

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5. Starting a retirement account too late.

This is a very common mistake. It can be difficult to see the consequences of not investing in a retirement account. Because there is no instant gratification in saving for retirement, it might be hard to be motivated. Put simply, every day you delay saving for retirement you are hurting yourself. Because of the percentage rate of retirement accounts, your money actually compounds over time. Time is the key word here. If you start early you will actually be making good money by the time you retire. Dave Ramsey recommends to put away $250 a month. The best time to start an IRA account is literally as soon as possible. So start now!

6. Not paying off loans and debt as soon as possible.

This is the exact same concept as point 5, except the situation is reversed. If you have any debt at all, you want to do your best to pay that off as soon as possible. Over time, your account balance won’t be ‘making money’. Instead, you’ll be losing money. The longer you wait, the worse things will get. If you wait too long, debt can spin out of control. Don’t let this happen to you. Make it a priority to pay off any debt you have and avoid accruing any more if you can help it. The best way to handle credit cards is to always live below your means and pay the account balance in full at the end of every month.

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7. Not living within your means.

There is a misconception that if you have good-quality things in your possession, you feel good having them and you will feel good when people see that you have them. Not true! Driving a Toyota Corolla with little debt is better than having a Mercedes-Benz you can’t afford and tons of debt.

The truth is, there may be a legitimate amount of satisfaction from having good-quality things. In fact, there’s nothing wrong with having expensive things. The trouble comes when you overspend way outside your means in order to purchase something. The stress that follows is not worth it. There is no price to having a happy, stress-free life. The amount of satisfaction from owning something purchased beyond your financial means wears off after a while. At that point, all you are left with is the financial stress. Why invite troubles into your life? Remember: smarter is better than sexier!

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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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