Sure, we may think we are in control of our finances, but either you never know what life is going to throw at you, or there could always be improvements that we can make to minimize spending and maximize saving for the future. Whether you are new to managing your own finances or well on your way to retirement and set in your ways, there’s always something we can learn and teach an old dog new tricks. Life gets in the way so much that we sometimes plug along on our day to day activities that finances may not get all of the attention that they need, otherwise you could be throwing money away every month and putting to better use like paying off debt or saving for the future.
Not Paying Attention to Spending
There are a couple careless ways of spending, you can either use your debit card and keep spending until the money is gone, waiting to refill next paycheck, or use can use your credit card which has virtually an endless spending limit, which could be scary when you get the bill in the mail, wondering yourself how the balance will get paid off, or a combination of the two. If you can review each month’s statement, combing over each purchase, calling out those that could be avoided, you can look to reduce expenses.
Having No Emergency Fund
As I mentioned in the opening, you never know what life will throw at you, so it’s best to be as prepared as you can. Whether it’s your furnace breaking down, your car needing repair, or even worse, losing your job and taking a few months to find a new one, you don’t want to go into debt because of something that may come up, so it’s good to have a cushion of cash just in case. If you can set aside a few months’ worth of expenses to have on hand if an emergency occurs, you can get through without needing to charge everything and worry about paying off later.
No Proper Grocery Shopping Planning
Going out to eat can get very expensive pretty quickly, so going grocery shopping and preparing your meals at home is a great way to not only eat healthier, but save on a considerable amount of money each month, if you are smart about it. Going grocery shopping can be a science, because there are so many distractions of unnecessary purchases to make, so it’s good to go in with a list, and on an empty stomach for that matter, because when you’re hungry, everything looks good.
Putting Off Saving for the Future
No matter where you are at in your career you may feel that retirement is too far away to worry about right now. While, yes, it may even be decades away, but that doesn’t mean that you should avoid saving for retirement while you are young, in fact that is the perfect time to start saving. The earlier you can start saving, the better, as you will learn to not miss that money going into a 401(k) each paycheck, but you will also get decades of interest earnings compiling so it can grow to enough that you will be able to live off during your retirement years.
Assuming Your Credit is “Perfect”
We had a friend that would use the old saying, you should never assume, because you make an ass out of you and me, as we rolled our eyes when he would say that, but it’s sort of true. You can’t assume everything is going perfect with your credit, because with the amount of fraud these days, you never know when your information has been compromised, so it’s important to not only check your bank and credit card online account daily if you can to confirm charges, but to review your credit report to ensure that everything is accurate.
Using a Credit Card Without Rewards
A couple of years ago when my wife and I signed up for the Citi Costco card, we had never really dealt with credit card rewards prior to, other than a couple gift cards here and there, but now earning anywhere from 1-4% cashback on purchases, things you would normally buy anyways I might add, it now makes sense to make all of our purchases on this card. While you do need to have plenty of willpower to not go off on a spending tangent and make unnecessary purchases, it’s been nice to get rewards dollars of a few hundred dollars each year.