Whether you think you have a solid handle on your finances or know you have room to improve, there are several common financial traps to avoid. Don’t find yourself a victim of these bad money habits:
1. Carrying a balance on your credit cards – If you’re only paying off a partial balance on your credit cards each month, you are not doing yourself any favors. You’re accruing interest on your debt and will only find yourself owing more than you paid in the first place. If this is a tough habit to break, start small by adding an extra $5 to your monthly payment and slowly increase that amount as you’re able to trim costs in other areas. Eventually you’ll make a nice chunk in your debt. Your bank account and credit score will thank you. Serious about getting out of debt? Check out this beginner’s guide to getting out of debt.
2. Not having a budget – Budgets get a bad rap, but they are essential for financial well-being. If you don’t know where you’re money is going each month, how can you plan your financial future? Remember, budgets aren’t about pinching every penny and removing all the fun in life. They are about spending your money intentionally on things that are important to you and your family. Start using a budget today and take control of your spending, stress less about money, and enjoy life more.
3. Spending too much on entertainment – If you are still shelling out cash to one of the big cable companies each month for the 200+ channel premium package, you should reconsider. Ask yourself how many of those channels you actually watch. You may be surprised to find you’re throwing lots of money down the drain for something you don’t use. Consider cutting the cable and consider Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime TV, Vudu, or one of the numerous other options available to you. If you are like my husband and want to watch college football games (Go Huskers!), consider a PSVue subscription.
4. Letting your groceries go to waste – You may question how this counts as a bad money habit, but you spend too much of your hard earned money on food to let it go bad. One recent study published in the Omaha World Herald on April 11, 2017 claims the average American wastes 23 pounds of food PER person each month. That adds up to $1,500 a year in food waste for the average family. The next time you find yourself cleaning the fridge, pay attention to how much money you’re tossing into the trash. A little meal planning and food preservation is all it takes to tighten up your grocery list, and eat through the food you buy before it spoils. If meal planning seems overwhelming to you, check out our monthly meal plans that do all the work for you or download my new book ‘The Extraordinary Art of Meal Planning’.
5. Daily coffee runs and lunches out – It’s perfectly fine to splurge on a latte once in a while, but if you’ve made a habit out of swinging through the coffee shop drive through on your morning commute, it’s time to stop. Convenience is wonderful, but picking up lunch or coffee on the go all the time adds up fast. Invest in a coffee machine with a timer so you can wake up each morning to the smell. Instead of picking up a sandwich from the local deli for lunch, meal prep on the weekends, and prepare your food for the week in advance. If you’ve already done the work, you’ll be much less tempted to cave when temptation strikes. Your waistline (and your pocketbook) will thank you!
6. Forgetting about your 401(k) match – Many employers offer a 401(k) plan to help their employees save for retirement. If you’re saving through your company’s 401(k), make sure to ask if they offer a match – a financial contribution made by your company to your 401(k) account. While each company handles this differently, many employers will quite literally match the contributions you make to your account, dollar for dollar, until you reach a certain threshold. If you aren’t taking full advantage of your company’s 401(k) match, you’re leaving money on the table – and that’s a financial habit you need to break.
What bad money habit have you broke or plan to break?