Money mistakes even smart people make

No one is perfect, and it’s easy to make a money mistake every now and then. But not learning from your financial miss-steps is silly and can cost you tens of thousands over the years. Here are nine costly money blunders you should avoid:
  
Not paying off your debt

So you’re carrying a big balance on your credit card year after year, you still have student debt ten years after graduation, and your car loan has more mileage on it than your vehicle. What are you doing? Debt is not your friend, and paying all that interest is keeping you from financial freedom. Get the debt load off your back by paying more than the minimum balance on your credit cards and by making a special effort to pay off ALL your debt.
 
You don’t know how much money you owe

If you don’t know exactly how much money you owe to your various creditors, you’ll never be able to accurately manage your debt and pay it off. Don’t run away from your billscalculate how much you owe to the last penny and then make a plan that you can stick to in order to pay it off – even if you can only manage to pay a tiny bit off at a time.
 
 Not paying yourself first – a.k.a. not saving enough

Making steady contributions to your retirement savings plan could help you build a bigger nest egg and retire sooner.  It is so important to save a little bit of money from every dollar you earn.  You pay your creditors the money that they want, but so often we all forget to pay the most important person : ourselves !  That’s because at the end of the month, there is nothing left after we’ve paid all our bills.  Here’s a better way: pay yourself FIRST, just a bit, and then pay everyone afterwards.  You will be amazed at how your savings or retirement fund will grow.
 
Misuse of credit

Loans should not be used for consuming things.  Loans should only be used to buy something that you think will be an asset and that will be worth the same or more in the future. That’s the way to get ahead.  If a loan is used to buy things that we use , then we will fall further and further behind, because, at the end of the day, we will still have a loan, but we will have nothing to show for it.  So, taking out a loan or a line of credit to buy something that should go up in value, like a house or a business is a reasonable action.  But to take out a loan or carry a credit card balance to buy things that we use or that go down in value, like food, or restaurant meals, or a TV, is not a good thing and should be avoided.
 
Thinking of today and not tomorrow

We all want to feel good.  And sometimes we make the mistake of thinking that buying stuff or going on holiday will make us feel good.  We will certainly feel good for a short time when we spend money on those types of activities.  But, if we use credit to do those kinds of things, or if we spend all our money ”today” and don’t save money for our future, then we will not feel good or be happy in the long term.  We will feel good and be happy for a week or two on holiday or for a day or two after we buy something, but the rest of the year we will feel stressed and unhappy – it may not be worth it.  We need to balance our spending and our saving.
 
 Motor toys – the biggest cash drain
A big mistake is to spend too much money on the latest model car.  In fact, a big mistake is to spend too much money on any of the latest toys, whether they are cars, cell phones, TV’s or any other gadget.  Try to make your “things” last longer, don’t buy the latest model, and then put the money you would have spent on the latest toy into your retirement account.

Published : September 20, 2011

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