As creatures of habit, who like to repeat the same behavior, our personal finance habits have an enormous impact on our financial well being. Unfortunately, all too many people fall victim to the same common money mistakes.Recognizing and eliminating these mistakes is the first step to financial independence. Here are the money mistakes that you need to avoid. How many are you guilty of?
The source of most personal debt is spending more than you need. Don’t go shopping when you’re bored, you’ll buy things you’ll rarely use. If you are prone to impulsive shopping, try to make a clear plan for what you need to buy, and what you need to avoid. If you really want something, you can come back the next day — be patient when shopping.
Being Swayed by Sales Techniques
Big companies try many tricks to get us to buy goods we don’t really need. For example, don’t be swayed by 50% sales promotions; just because it is on sale doesn’t mean it’s good value or that you need to buy it. Don’t get excited over every 3 for the price of 2; otherwise you will just start to accumulate things you are never going to use. If you feel pressured by salesman, walk out — if you really want the product you can always come back.
Never Checking for Cheaper Deals
For many items such as mortgages, electricity and gas suppliers, our existing company takes advantage of our customer loyalty by charging higher prices. This reluctance to move is called customer inertia; for example, people think it is too much hassle to move their mortgage, so they stick with their existing company. However, if they looked around and re-mortgaged they may be able to save considerable amounts of money. For the time involved it’s a great value. Think of it like this, if you went into a shop would you buy a good which is exactly the same, but 20% more expensive?
The ‘Poor Me’ Attitude
If you have an attitude of poverty and feel sorry for yourself, it’s difficult to do anything about it. If you feel that the world is conspiring to make you poor, it’s likely to come true. This doesn’t mean I advocate a blind belief that repeating a few money mantras will solve all your financial problems. But you need to avoid a negative attitude and look at how you can constructively move forward and improve your financial situation.
Not Having a Savings Plan
It is true that in your 20’s, it can be difficult to save because you have student loans to pay off e.t.c. Saving will hopefully become easier later in life. However, if you put it off to long, you’ll eventually find yourself in your 50’s with no savings or contingency plan. The earlier you start saving the more productive it becomes. If you can get into a regular savings habit, it’s easier to increase the monthly deposits as your financial situation improves.
Making Wealth Accumulation the Purpose of Life
My boss is a multimillionaire, but, he is never satisfied. He always wants more; it really pains him to spend any money. Money and wealth are not a bad thing; but, they can be if we love them to the exclusion of all else. Life isn’t all about saving money for retirement. You need to maintain a sense of balance between money and the rest of life.
Letting Money Spoil Friendships
It’s a mistake to rely on friends to bale us out of money problems. Occasionally it may be necessary, and we should not let our pride prevent us accept help when in dire straits. But, at the same time we should try to avoid making it a habit. Nor should we feel responsible to deal with our friends financial problems.
Not Tracking Your Finances
Many people have no idea how much they spend or how much debt they have. As things worsen it becomes less attractive to find out our true financial state. Unfortunately, ignoring your problem will never make it go away. Being aware of your circumstances is essential to moving forward.
Gaining an Adverse Credit Rating
Missing credit card or loan payments might cost you penalties and interest payments, but the main problem is that it adversely affects your credit rating. This makes it more difficult and expensive to get credit in the future. Adverse credit payments can often be avoided by setting up direct debits, and speaking to your bank when difficulties arise. It is also possible to appeal against one off late payments — offering an excuse such as getting delayed in the mail.
Borrowing at High Interest Rates
If you do create unavoidable debt, make sure you move it to the lowest possible interest loan. This might be a 0% introductory period on a credit card, or perhaps putting debt onto your mortgage. Avoid at all costs borrowing at interest rates of 17% – 25%, which you see on some credit cards.Tejvan Pettinger works as an Economics Teacher in Oxford. He writes frequently on economics and issues of personal finance. He also updates a site on personal finance and mortgage advice. This includes recent articles such as 10 Effective ways to Reduce Debt.