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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 May 7, 2019

How to Invest for Retirement (The Smart and Stress-Free Way)

How to Invest for Retirement (The Smart and Stress-Free Way)

When it comes to stocks, I bet you feel like you have no idea what you’re doing.

Everyone who’s not a financial expert has been there. I’ve been there. But, time is passing and you need to be crystal clear with how you’re investing for your retirement.

Otherwise, it’s back to work until you can afford not to. So, how can you invest for retirement when you’re not a financial expert?

You take the time to learn the fundamentals well. If you do, you can grow your wealth and retire happy. The best part is that you don’t need to be a financial expert to make smart investment decisions.

Here’s how to invest for retirement the smart and stress-free way:

1. Know Clearly Why You Invest

Odds are you already know why should invest for retirement.

But, maybe you know the wrong reasons. It’s time you get clear on why you’d like to retire. Here are some questions to help you get started:

  • Will you spend more time with your family?
  • What does retirement mean to you?
  • Are you looking to launch that business you’ve been holding off for years?

Everyone wants to retire but not for the same reasons. Once you’re clear for why retirement is important for you, you’ll focus on making it happen.

Investing in the stock market allows you to take advantage of compound interest.[1] All this means is that your money earns money on top of its interest. A reason why investment in the stock market is one of the best ways to plan for retirement.

2. Figure out When to Invest

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”– Chinese Proverb

It’s true if you’d had started investing when you were 10 years old, you’d have a lot more money than you do today.

The reality is that most people don’t start investing until it’s too late. So, if you’re currently waiting for the perfect time to start an investment, it would be today. Open your calendar and block out 2 to 3 hours to choose how you’ll invest for retirement.

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A quick way to get a snapshot of where you stand is to use Personal Capital. Input all your personal information and spend some time setting your retirement goals. Once completed, you’ll know where you stand with your retirement.

Having a savings account for retirement isn’t planning for retirement. Why? Your money loses value when you factor in US inflation.[2]

3. Evaluate Your Risk Tolerance to Create the Perfect Portfolio

Investing your money well depends on your emotions.

Why?

Because when the market drops most people panic and withdraw their money. On average, the US stock market yields an annual 6% to 7% ROI (return on your investment.) But, this won’t happen if you’re worried about short-term loses.

Before you invest your next dollar, know your risk tolerance.[3] Your risk tolerance determines the number of risky and safe investments you’d have.

Regardless of your investing style, you need to view investing for retirement as a long term game. Know that some years you’ll lose money but recoup this in the long-term.

Avoid watching market-related new. Also, create a double authentication to log in your investment account. This way you’re less likely to withdraw your money.

4. Open a Reliable Retirement Account

Depending on your circumstance, you may need to open a new brokerage account. This is the account is where you’ll invest your money.

If you’re currently working for a company, odds are that they offer a 410K investing account. If so, here’s where you’ll invest most of your money. The only problem with this is that you’re limited to the stock options that are available.

You do have the option to open a separate IRA (individual retirement account.) Here are some of the best brokers:

  1. Vanguard
  2. TD Ameritrade
  3. Charles Schwab

5. Challenge Yourself to Invest Consistently

Committing to invest for retirement is hard, but continuing to do so is harder.

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Once you’ve started investment for your retirement, you run at risk from stopping. Often you’ll want to contribute less, so you’d have more money in your pocket.

That’s why it’s important that you create a budget that allows you to invest each month. If you’re working for a company, you can set a percentage for the amount you’d like to contribute each month. Most people by default contribute 1% but aim to contribute 10% to 15%.

Be the judge for how much you can afford to contribute after covering important expenses. To stay motivated, use Personal Capital to view your net worth.

A benefit to contributing money to your retirement account is not taxed. For example, if you earn $100 and invest 10%, you’d contribute $10, then get taxed on the remaining $90. As of 2019, the most you’re able to contribute towards your 401K is 19K but this can change.

6. Consider Where to Invest Your Money

The most common way to invest your money is in stocks, but it’s not the only way. Here are other ways to invest:

Robo Advisors

Robo-advisors[4] are fancy algorithms that’ll choose the best investments for you. Sites like Wealthfront make it easy for first-time investors to invest their money. You’d input information about yourself and set your risk tolerance.

Then, set your monthly contribution amount and your robo-advisor would do the rest. Robo-advisors charge a fee to manage your money, but less than regular advisors.

Bonds

Think of bonds as “IOUs” to whomever you buy them from.

Essentially, you’re lending money and charging interest. Like stocks, not all bonds are equal. Some will be riskier than others depending on their rating.

Here are the different types of bond categories:[5]

  1. Treasury bonds
  2. Government bonds
  3. Corporate bonds
  4. Foreign bonds
  5. Mortgage-backed bonds
  6. Municipal bonds

Mutual Funds

Picture a group of people dumping all their money in a jar that’s managed by a professional. This is how mutual funds work. The fund manager manages the money looking to earn capital gains (interest.)

One of the best types of mutual funds is index funds. Since these funds don’t try to beat the market and instead follow it, they need less research. Because of this they often charge the lowest fees and yield the best long-term results.

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Real Estate

Yes, buying a home is an investment when done correctly.

Imagine buying a home and using it as a rental property. After repairing it, you receive a monthly surplus check of $100 to $200.

This may not sound like a lot, but repeat this process enough times and you’d earn a large amount of passive income. That’s why real estate is one of the best investments to not only retire but become wealthy.

But, it requires a lot of money to start and you should expect losing money along the way as you learn the process.

Savings Accounts

Your money can still grow in a savings account. Nowadays most online banks offer a 2% annual return. Although the average inflation is higher your money will be available when you need it.

7. Master Disincline to Dodge Short Success

Investing for retirement is a long-term strategy. That’s why you need to master delayed gratification. All this means is delaying short-term pleasure for something bigger in the future. Research shows that those who have delayed gratification are more successful.[6]

So how can you master delayed gratification?

By building your discipline.

Think back to what retirement means to you. A clear purpose will help you avoid withdrawing your money during a market downturn. It’ll help you contribute more towards retirement when you’d want to waste it instead.

Your journey towards retirement will be long, so reward yourself along the way. Choose a reward that’s relevant and meaningful, so that you reinforce positive behavior. For example, after contributing more towards retirement, treat yourself to dinner.

8. Aggressively Invest on This One Investment

I’ve mentioned several types of investments but haven’t covered the most important one.

It sounds cliche but here’s why you’re your best investment towards retirement. The more you know, the more money you’ll be able to make. The more good habits you adopt, the more secure your retirement will be.

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More importantly, investing in yourself is an investment that no one can take away. There’s no market downturn nor tragic circumstance that’ll wipe your knowledge and experience.

But, how can you invest yourself?

Reading books, blogs, and anything that’ll help you learn new topics daily. Listen to podcasts and audiobooks on your commute to/from work.

Save money to buy courses and hire coaches. I used to believe hiring coaches was a waste of money when I could learn the subject alone.

But, coaches see your blind spots and hold you accountable. Hiring the right coach will help you achieve your goals faster than you would’ve alone.

Retire Happy with Excess Money

The key to a secure financial future doesn’t only belong to financial experts.

It’s possible for you and I. What if you were able to retire earlier than most people and weren’t a financial planner? What if you were able to focus on what you enjoy doing the most while your money was working hard for you?

I know this sounds impossible now, but the truth is you’re capable of taking charge of your retirement. I’m not a financial expert but I’ve learned how to invest my money by reading books and learning from others.

Investing your money is scary. So start small and invest a small amount of your money with a robo-advisor. Feel your money drop and rise for a month or two. Then, invest more and keep this up until you’re aggressively saving for retirement.

One day, you’ll wake up with a net worth you’re proud of – confident about your retirement. You now know a few strategies you can use to invest in your retirement. Will you take action to retire happy?

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Featured photo credit: Matthew Bennett via unsplash.com

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