3 Bad Habits That Make You Lose Control of Your Money and 5 Good Habits to Implement
Countless people feel that they’re making the smartest choices possible with their money, and yet constantly find their financial stability slipping through their fingers. More often than not, this is down to bad financial habits that weaken all the good ones.
These can be easy to fall into, but often very hard to recognize and get out of! Here are some of the main reasons why your finances may feel out of control.
1. You Treat Credit Cards Like Free Money
Credit cards are a tool in your financial toolkit, just like any other. Like many other financial tools, you need to make a point of using credit cards carefully, or it could blow up in your face at a moment’s notice! This happens all too often to people in the western world.
That little bit of plastic in your wallet is a massive enabler of bad financial habits, and opens up the possibility to borrow money on a whim, punching a massive hole in your budget.
While there are some great interest rates and rewards out there, as well as services that make it easier to manage your debt, you don’t want to wind up in a position where your credit card is your go-to method of spending.
2. You’re Making It Hard to Save
Old habits, as they say, die hard. One of the oldest and most deeply-rooted bad money habits in the developed world is thinking of saving money as something you should do as and when you can, and only if there aren’t any immediate purchases you want to make.
Obviously, it’s your money to do what you want with. However, if you really want to regain some kind of stability in your personal finances, you may need to put some barriers between you and frivolous spending.
Like most people, you probably already have your bills and mortgage payments taken out of your account automatically. Try applying the same tool to your savings. Every month, have a certain proportion of your earnings diverted straight to savings account.
Most financial advisers will tell you 10% is a good mark to aim for, but if this is going to strain you too much, start saving less.
As long as you’re regularly putting something away, you’ll be helping yourself towards better habits and a healthier credit score.
3. You’re Putting Off the Bills
Waving away your financial obligations is one sure-fire way to hurt your personal finances. When a creditor or collection agency calls about an outstanding balance, pay the bill as soon as possible.
If you try to dodge collections, all the while under the weight of other financial problems, you’ll only start jumping from crisis to crisis, never solving any of them, and all the while your credit score will be going up in flames.
Your payment history on things like energy bills and car insurance will carry a lot of weight when it comes to your credit score, and any borrowing you’ll want to do in the future. Don’t bury your head in the sand and live to regret it!
5 Good Money Habits
We covered 3 bad habits and some fixes for them. Here are 5 more habits that will help you get control of your finances.
1. Be Patient
A lot of things pertaining to money are about patience. Building financial freedom is typically a long game, rarely do people get rich quickly. And when they do, they tend to lose it just as fast.
Being patient, using compound interest to your advantage and following these other habits will see you set yourself up financially and be in control of your money.
Learn techniques to help with patience. Instead of those impulse buys, use a list and put anything you want to buy on it. 30 days later, have a look and if you still really want those items, work them into your budget.
Knowledge is power. Learn what you can about money and yourself. Research your retirement options, ways to minimize tax, along with shares and compound interest.
Learning these things will help you make better choices with your money. Better choices lead to better outcomes.
By learning about retirement you can see if your employer has any options to increase it without any effort e.g. matching programs.
Go over your finances and automate anything you can. For example, set up your accounts to transfer to savings and investing automatically every time you get paid.
Schedule the payments for your regular bills or at least schedule a transfer to a separate account to pay for those as they happen.
Look at ways you can make being better with money easier through automation. Read The Automatic Millionaire for more information on how to make this easy.
4. Live Below Your Means
If you spend more than you earn, your life is always going to be a mess. Instead, learn to live below your means.
Look at your income vs expenses, if your expenses outweigh your income you need to cut back and it is advisable to also look at how you can bring in more money. 5 ways to make an extra $500 is a good place to start.
5. Have Clear Goals
One of the easiest ways to stick to your good habits is to have clear goals. Whether that be to invest $10,000 a year, financial freedom to retire early, go on a big family holiday, buy a house or anything else, knowing why you are saving helps a lot.
Think about your life and what you want, not what everyone else has. What do you actually want?
Why do you want that? How can you make it happen.
Write down your goals, put some pictures up and use them to focus yourself and stick to your new good habits with money.
What habits are you changing or have you found useful?