Are you struggling to make ends meet? Do you feel like no matter how hard you work, your money just seems to slip through your fingers? If so, it might be time to examine your financial habits.
Bad money habits can keep us stuck in a cycle of debt and poverty that's difficult to break free from. But the good news is that by making small changes in our behavior and attitude towards money, we can start taking control of our finances and building real wealth.
In this article, we'll discuss eight bad money habits that could be keeping you broke – as well as some tips for breaking them. So let's get started!
The biggest culprit of bad money habits is the Fear Of Missing Out, also known as FOMO. This psychological phenomenon can drive us to participate in activities we can't afford to keep up with our peers or fit in.
It can be branded apparel, the latest gadgets, nights out at expensive restaurants, and even investments like Crypto – whatever it is, FOMO can quickly drain our bank accounts if we need to be more careful.
It's important to remember that you don't have to participate in everything – it's ok to say no and focus on the things you value. Don't keep letting FOMO from driving your spending decisions.
2. Eating Out too Much
It's ridiculous to see restaurants charging double or triple for a simple meal – which could have been prepared for a fraction of the cost in your kitchen.
Eating out can quickly become an expensive habit and one that doesn't always make financial sense. Instead, take some time to plan and cook more meals at home.
Rather than going to an expensive restaurant, ask your friends and family out for a picnic to enjoy the outdoors. It will be much cheaper as well as much more social compared to eating out.
3. Not Having a Budget
Budgeting is the key financial tool that can help you get your spending back on track. Without a budget, keeping tabs on where your money is going and how much you have left over at the end of each month is impossible.
Creating a budget doesn't have to be complicated – just set up some simple categories for tracking your income and expenses, and ensure you're not spending more than you're earning.
It's also essential to use a financial tracking tool like Mint or YNAB to review your progress and make changes as needed.
4. Not Building an Emergency Fund
One of the worst bad money habits is not having or not building an emergency fund. Emergencies can happen, like a car repair, a job loss, or even a loss of income.
Debt can pile up, and many other financial disasters could arise. When these emergencies happen, it is great to have an emergency fund to cover them. If you do not have one, then all of your financial progress can be thrown out the window.
Start building an emergency fund today. Most experts say to have at least 3-6 months' worth of expenses that can cover things in case of job loss or any other financial loss.
Stick that emergency fund into high-yield savings or someplace where you can get the money out fast. It would give you safety and less stress if you were to need that money.
5. Using Credit Cards Too Much
Credit cards can be a great way to build your credit score, but they can also be dangerous if you're not careful.
If you rely too heavily on credit cards for your spending and pay off the balance only a few times a month, it will quickly accumulate interest – which could spiral out of control quickly.
Credit cards are great for emergencies rather than for regular spending. If you find yourself relying too heavily on your credit cards, it can lead to debt and a significant financial headache.
6. Not Investing
Putting your money in a regular savings account will only give you a little return on your investment. But still, so many people leave their money in a low-interest account, earning very little.
They think it's too risky – yes, it's risky, but if you do your research and invest in the right products, you can make some serious money. Investments such as real estate, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and ETFs can be great ways to build long-term wealth.
Even retirement funds like 401(k)s and IRAs can help you save more money in the long run. Don't be afraid to take a little risk – it may just pay off!
7. Not Improving Your Credit Scores
Your credit score is the key to many doors – from getting lower interest rates on loans to qualifying for better insurance premiums.
But if you need to pay attention to your credit score, it can start to take a hit and cost you more money in the long run. It might not feel too big a deal, but soon, it can make a real difference in your life.
Let's say you want to buy a car or a home, but your credit score needs to be higher – you'll end up paying a much higher interest rate. Take steps to improve your credit score: pay your bills on time, keep your balances low, and check your report for errors.
8. Relying on a Single Source of Income
This is a dangerous game to play – relying solely on one source of income means putting all your eggs in one basket, and if something were to happen, your finances could take a huge hit.
Instead, diversify your income streams – look into multiple ways to make money that bring in different sources of income. This could mean taking on a side job, starting an online business, or investing in stocks.
No matter what you choose to do, it's important to never rely solely on one source of income – this way, if something does happen and that income stream dries up, you'll still have other options to fall back on.
9. Not Planning for Retirement
Your retirement years are the golden years of your life, and you want to ensure you have enough money saved up for them. Don't leave this important step until the last minute – start planning and saving as soon as possible.
Retirement may seem far away, but it's essential to start planning for it now. Don't wait until you're nearing the age of retirement – if you want to be able to afford a comfortable retirement and enjoy financial security, then start planning now.
Start contributing to an IRA or 401(k) as much as you can, and look into other investment options to help build your retirement fund. It's always early enough to start getting ready for the future – the earlier you get started, the more time you have to save up and prepare.
10. Lifestyle Inflation
Many people want to grow their income, and it is good for increasing saving, investing, and paying off debt. As your income grows, do not inflate your lifestyle by spending more.
Many people will start spending more since they have more in their pockets. Spending the same amount of money and saving the rest is best. If you can pay yourself first, you can grow your savings and investments as you grow your income.
Less spending and more saving can help you to avoid lifestyle inflation.
Common Financial Mistakes Can Be Avoided
As you can see, plenty of common financial mistakes can easily be avoided. The key is to stay aware and make intelligent decisions when it comes to your money. Take the time to understand your finances and how they work – this way, you can avoid making costly mistakes. Depending on your financial situation, create a plan that works for you. Good luck!
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I’m Steve. I’m an English Teacher, traveler, and an avid outdoorsman. If you’d like to comment, ask a question, or simply say hi, leave me a message here, on Twitter (@thefrugalexpat1). Many of my posts have been written to help those in their journey to financial independence. I am on my journey, and as I learn more I hope to share more. And as always, thanks for reading The Frugal Expat.