How well do you handle your finances?
Most of us have some bad money habits that if we continue could leave us eating Ramen noodles for the rest of our lives.
Ramen noodles do not taste too terrible and we can survive eating it, but it gets old quickly. Shape up or you could wind up broke and desperate!
Check out this list to see if you have any bad money habits that you need to break!
1. Struggling to keep up with the Joneses
Comparing yourself to your neighbor is a very common bad habit and trying to keep up with their lifestyle is a trap that will suck your finances dry. Be your own person and decide for yourself what makes you happy!
2. Shopping for groceries on an empty stomach
A big chunk of our income goes toward groceries. When you are hungry, everything in the store looks appetizing. Be sure to eat something just before you go grocery shopping this will help cut back on the food bill and possibly your waistline more than you can imagine.
3. Leaving the lights on 24×7
Dads across the country ask, “Are we paying the electric company’s Christmas bonus this year?!?” Turn off the lights when they aren’t in use. It will reduce your power bill and it is good for the environment!
4. Buying every book you read
I check out most of the books I read from the library. This not only saves me money, but it also eliminates the need to store all those books. After all, how many do you actually read more than once? There also cool companies like Audible that you can get a few audible books each month for a low monthly fee.
5. Failing to consider TCO when making a purchase
TCO stands for “Total Cost of Ownership”. Many items require us to pay upkeep, storage and usage fees. Pools, boats, RVs, hot tubs and other luxuries often fall into this category.
6. Saving too little
Planning for the future is important. However, many of us catch the “I gotta have it now” attitude. We then come up short when buying a home, paying for college or retiring. Saving too little is a bad habit for many people!
7. Renting or leasing everything long-term
When you rent or lease everything, you don’t build any equity. Your money just disappears, never to be seen again. Instead, use your money wisely to buy assets that retain value. A home is a good example and now is a great time to buy!
8. Following the crowd when investing in the stock market
Many people tend to get caught up in the hype about the stock market. When market news is good, they buy. When market news is bad, they sell. Generally, this leads to buying high and selling low. Not a good strategy!
9. Buying stock in a single company on a hot tip
How many of you have lost money on this one? I know I have. Doing this habitually will cost you a lot of money. A long-term, diversified portfolio is a much better strategy!
10. Making a daily weekly visit to the mall
You may not buy something every time you visit the mall, but occasional purchases still add up. Stay away from the places that lead you to spend more than you should. Stop the catalogs and mall visits and you will save money!
11. Owning more shoes than you could wear in a month
Comfortable footwear is a must, but how many pairs do you really need? Many of us have a different pair of shoes for every possible occasion.
12. Eating out too often
This has got to be my Achilles heel when it comes to finances. I love eating out! Of course, restaurants are expensive and if you go out all the time especially to fancy places, then you are throwing money down the drain.
13. Buying a new car every couple of years
New cars depreciate 20-30% the first two years of ownership! Why take this kind of a financial hit? Buy a good vehicle that is two years old and keep it until it wears out. Trading cars all the time is definitely a bad money habit.
14. Using payday loans to make ends meet
Payday loans are notoriously bad. The interest rate can easily be 200-400% APR! You can quickly get yourself in a payday loan sinkhole that is practically impossible to escape. Don’t start this habit if you haven’t already!
In 2017, the average cost of a pack of cigarettes rose to nearly $9.00! An ex-pack-a-day-smoker could invest this money at 8% interest and have about $50,000 in 10 years or $160,000 in 20 years.
16. Drinking a latte every morning
It is easy to get down on smokers, but what about you? Do you stop and have a latte every morning on your way to work? Saving just $4 per day could net you over $20,000 in 10 years! Habits can cost you more than you think!
17. Thinking 90 days really is the same as cash
Retailers wouldn’t offer this so often if they didn’t make money doing it. If you are late even one day paying off this charge, then you will likely owe back interest on the full amount! The perils of 90-days same as cash plans aren’t worth it!
18. Charging everything to your credit card
Some find it more convenient to use a credit card for all their purchases. Well, with interest and late fees you generally wind up paying more by using plastic over cash. In addition, it is psychologically easier to whip out a card to buy things than it is to use hard-earned cash!
19. Borrowing against your 401k
There are a number of reasons that borrowing from your 401k is a bad idea. Mainly, you are robbing your future to pay for your present circumstances. This will leave you poor! Doing this repeatedly is a terrible habit that will come back to haunt you.
20. Cranking the heat and air at your residence
We all like being comfortable, but it is more economical to be very conservative when setting the thermostat. You can do all kinds of things to stay cool this summer besides just sitting in the A/C. Be creative and save yourself some dough!
21. Playing the lottery
In my humble opinion, the lottery is just a voluntary tax on the poor, but I won’t go there. The odds of winning are so low that this is like throwing money in the trash. Invest this money wisely and you might truly have a fortune some day!
22. Paying too much
There are all kinds of ways and reasons that we pay too much for stuff. Sometimes it’s because we want the latest and greatest or because we “need” a designer label. Never pay retail and always look for a bargain. This habit will save you tons over a lifetime!
23. Being late with payments
Some of us are just never on time for anything. However, paying your bills late is not a luxury you can afford. Late fees add up fast! Try online bill pay or some other technique, but be sure you pay what you owe when you owe it.
24. Investing in things you don’t understand
Never, never, never put your money in something you don’t fully understand. When you do, you are like a lamb being led to the slaughter. Sorry to be so graphic, but it is time to wake up! Get-rich-quick doesn’t work. Don’t fall for it! Take the safe route and you’ll be ahead.
25. Visiting your local casino every week
Casinos are in business to make money, not give it away. So, no matter how hard they try to convince you otherwise keep your money in your pocket. Going to a casino regularly means that you are going to lose your money. It is that plain and simple.
26. Pawning or hawking items at a pawn shop
You can either sell items to pawn shops which is called hawking or you can borrow money using your item as collateral which is called pawning. Either way, you are losing money. Doing this regularly will cost you a bundle. Avoid pawn shops unless you are buying!
27. Making impulse buys
Do you go out shopping without knowing what you are going to buy before you leave the house? If so, then you are looking for an impulse buy. Most people live in denial about this and trick themselves into thinking they got a “good deal”. Buying things you don’t need is not frugal. Staying home will truly save you money.
28. Failing to try before you buy
I’m a big fan of trying something before you buy it. This has helped me numerous times to avoid buyer’s remorse. Yes, it may cost you a little to try something first, but this can save you hundreds down the road.
29. Signing up for debt consolidation
People usually want to consolidate their debt when they have too much to afford the monthly payments. Debt consolidation usually offers a lower monthly payment, but without a change in behavior most folks wind up deeper in debt than when they started.
30. Relying on one income stream
What if your one source of income dries up? What will you do then to stay afloat? This is when many start developing some of the other bad habits on this list like using credit cards, payday loans and pawning items. Develop multiple streams of income!
31. Letting the government hold your money
Many of us are so afraid of owing some taxes on April 15th that we let the government take too much out of our checks. If you get a big tax refund every year, then you need to adjust your withholdings. You are just letting Uncle Sam use your money for free.
32. Bouncing checks
Overdrawing your checking account will cost you big time in overdraft fees and service charges. There is really no excuse for this with the widespread availability of online checking and budgeting systems.
33. Buying extended warranties
You can always find someone that was glad they bought the extended warranty, but for each of these there are a thousand people that gained no benefit from the extra cost. This is exactly what the warranty provider banks on. Skip the extended warranty and save the difference!
34. Overbuying gifts
I’m a generous guy. I really am, but some people just go way overboard especially at Christmas. Are you really doing the right thing for your family if every year you bury yourself deeper in debt? Sensible gift-giving is the loving thing to do.
35. Using your emergency fund unwisely
An emergency fund is for when the truly unexpected happens. It is not for new tires, Christmas gifts or car repairs. These are all things you should be including in your budget. Your emergency fund is there for when you lose your job or get sick. Using it unwisely will leave it depleted for when a true emergency pops up.
36. Neglecting preventive maintenance tasks
Most assets need some form of preventive maintenance to keep them in top shape. This is true of your home, car and appliances for example. Neglecting to do this properly will cost you more in the long run.
37. Refusing to negotiate
You can often stretch your dollars further by negotiating a better deal. However, some people are afraid to ask. I recently got 5% knocked off a large car repair just by asking. It wasn’t much, but every little bit helps.
38. Spending a dime to save a penny
Sometimes, if we aren’t careful, we can waste money trying to save money. I’ve done this more than once with home-improvement projects. I try to do it cheap and wind up having to redo the whole thing over the right way. This jacks my cost up even more than expected.
39. Buying things you don’t use
Be honest. How many of you have a gym membership or piece of exercise equipment that you don’t use? Why waste the money? Stop the bleeding by refusing to continue buying things that you won’t use!
40. Buying too soon
Technology gadgets are notoriously expensive when they are first introduced. You can often save a bundle if you wait awhile before making such a purchase. If you are in the habit of buying things when they are hot, then learn to chill a bit.
41. Buying too late
Procrastination can force you into paying more for items you need. When you notice something you’ve been saving to buy is on sale, make your move. Waiting may lead you to miss the deal. Be prepared and take decisive action!
42. Acquiring too much of what depreciates
Things like cars, boats, furniture and decorations lose value fast. These are usually things we want to impress the neighbors. However, they have little to do with true wealth. Buying too much of this stuff will leave you poor and disillusioned.
43. Being too generous
Loaning or giving money to every person with a sad story will usually make you one of them. I’m a big fan of donating to worthy causes, but be smart about how you give your money. There is nothing wrong with checking out a story before giving to it. Learn how to protect your money from panhandlers here.
44. Being too selfish
Greedy people often find themselves in a financial ditch. Making money the most important thing in your life is not a good strategy for living life to the fullest. Yes, money opens many doors, but selfishness closes far more.
45. Allowing yourself to be pressured
Don’t buy things because a salesman is pushing you to do so. In fact, pressure should be a red flag to you that something isn’t right. Walk out of any deal where you feel pressure to rush into something. Legitimate deals can almost always wait overnight.
46. Failing to ask for a raise
Ask for more money at work and they might surprise you by giving it to you. You won’t know for sure until you ask. Every employer wants to keep salary expense to a minimum, but they also want to keep good help. If you haven’t had a raise in awhile, ask for one!
47. Ignoring your credit history
In today’s world, you must monitor your credit history to avoid identity theft. Checking your credit report a few times a year will help ensure nothing fishy is happening. It may also help you catch and correct errors before they cause problems.
48. Following the advice of broke people
Who’s financial advice are you following? What is their net worth? It is easy to go with the prevailing financial wind, but this often leads you to where everyone else is at — the poor house! Make sure your advisor knows what he or she is talking about.
49. Neglecting the march of time
Time does not stand still. You will one day need a newer car, your kids will eventually go to college and one day, sooner than you think, it will be time for you to retire. Are you financially prepared for these events? Ignoring them will not make them go away!
50. Refusing to live on a budget
Budgets get a bad rap. Most people feel like they are too restrictive. It doesn’t have to be that way. Failing to plan how you want to use your money is probably the #1 bad money habit people need to overcome. Give budgeting a try and you might be pleasantly surprised with what it can do for you!
50 Bad Money Habits That Will Leave You Eaing Ramen Noodles For Dinner- Bad money habits don’t have to last a lifetime!
Recognize yourself in this list of bad money habits? It is never too late to change!
Craig is the founder of LifeGuider, he is dedicated to improving not only himself but also others in being more physically fit and mentally capable of handling life’s challenges. He is not your regular life coach, no fancy clothes or fast cars, just a regular “Ole Joe” who has experienced the ups and downs of life like everyone else.