Have you ever wondered why you’re not rich yet? The problem is you’re probably getting in your own way. Whether it’s a daily trip to your favorite coffee shop or frequent visits to the ATM, we all have habits that interfere with our financial goals. Here are 7 habits you need to kick to the curb so you can start saving more money.
Habit #1: Spending without a budget
It’s easy for your finances to get out of control when you’re clueless about what you’re spending. Therefore, you need a budget. Grab your pen and paper and we’ll teach you how to create one in 4 easy steps.
Step 1: Calculate your monthly income. This includes your wages, child support and any other payments you receive.
Step 2: Figure out your monthly expenses. This includes any bills you’ve received in the mail as well as any receipts you’ve accumulated throughout the month. Total them up and separate them into two piles: variable and fixed expenses. Variable expenses are bills whose amounts change monthly (i.e. clothing, groceries, entertainment, etc.). Whereas
fixed expenses are bills whose amounts remain the same (i.e. rent, student loans, insurance, etc.).
Step 3: Subtract your expenses from your income. If you have money leftover after paying the bills, congratulations, you’re on the right track. However, if your expenses are leaving you in a hole, you need to make some changes.
Step 4: Cut unnecessary expenses. Go through your list of expenses and look for items you can do without. Typically, variable expenses are easier to cut since they aren’t as important. Keep making cuts until your income and expenses balance each other out. Once you have a budget in place, try it out for a month and make adjustments as needed.
Habit #2: Failing to save for a rainy day
No matter who you are, everyone needs to save for a rainy day. Most experts recommend setting aside 3-6 months’ worth of living expenses in case of an emergency. Saving a large sum of cash can seem like a daunting task but it doesn’t have to be. Calculate how much money you’ll need and create a monthly savings goal. Once you have a target in mind, setup automatic monthly transfers with your bank. By treating it like a bill, you’re more likely to stick with the plan.
Habit #3: Not contributing enough to retirement
Want some free money? You’d be hard pressed to find someone who flat out rejects the offer but you might be doing so indirectly. Studies show that one in five workers don’t contribute enough to their 401K to receive their full company match. That’s free money you’re missing out on. Don’t let another dime slip through your fingers, aim to save at least 10 percent of your salary for retirement. If that’s too rich for your blood, at least contribute enough to receive your company match. Remember, every dollar you contribute lowers your taxable income so you’ll walk away with a bigger refund at tax time. The fastest and easiest way to file is with ezTaxReturn.com.
Habit #4: Borrowing from your retirement accounts
When money is running low, some people tap into their retirement accounts for relief. Not only are you robbing yourself of a good financial future, the penalties you’ll face aren’t worth it. Typically, any money you withdraw before turning 59 ½ will be taxed and hit with a 10% penalty. Needless to say, you’ll be much better off exploring other borrowing options.
Habit #5: Charging more than you can afford
ValuePenguin reports that 41.2% of American households are carrying credit card debt. Failing to pay your balance on time and in full has more repercussions than just a few late fees. Your card’s interest rate can skyrocket up to 29.99% if your payment is more than 30 days late. Do yourself a favor and only charge what you can afford to pay off at the end of the month. The next time something catches your eye, walk away and give yourself at least 24 hours to think about the purchase. By taking a step back, you may have a change of heart.
Habit #6: Ignoring your credit report
When’s the last time you checked your credit report? If it’s been over a year, you need to get on it ASAP. Many people don’t realize how bad their credit is until they’re rejected for a new loan. Save yourself the embarrassment and start checking your credit report on a regular basis. By law, you’re entitled to a free copy from Experian, TransUnion and Equifax once a year. When reviewing your report, look for any mistakes or unfamiliar accounts that may be hurting your score. It’s imperative that you keep your credit in tip top shape because that’s how you’ll get the best interest rates. Easy score boosting tricks include keeping your balances low, paying your bills on time and not opening multiple accounts too quickly.
Habit #7: Racking up bank fees
Americans paid a whopping $34B in overdraft fees last year. Stop giving away your money. Next time you’re running short on cash, go to your bank’s website and look up the nearest ATM. It might be inconvenient but considering ATM fees cost between $2-$3, the savings will add up. Alternatively, you can ask for cash back when you make a debit card purchase. Just make sure you actually have enough cash in your account to cover all of your bills since overdraft fees run around $30 per item.