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Being financially stable is one of those rights of passage that we all hope to achieve in adulthood. Sometimes, however, financial stability doesn’t always happen. If you aren’t where you’d like to be in terms of your finances, there are a few habits you may be doing that are threatening your financial future. From not saving to overspending, here are a few financial habits you need to break sooner than later.
Not saving for emergencies
An emergency fund is a little pocket of money that you have saved away for an unforeseen event. This emergency could be a medical procedure or a loss of a job. It could also be a car or home repair you didn’t predict coming. Whatever the emergency, if you aren’t prepared, you will likely end up short on paying other bills or having to use your credit cards to pay for the unexpected expense.
Saving for an emergency will allow you some breathing room if something ever comes up. You’ll have a nice buffer so that if you do need a large sum of money you won’t have to use your credit card to cover yourself. Not having this fund can lead to a bad cycle of having to delay paying a bill or overusing your credit card and increasing your debt.
Overspending is one of the worst financial mistakes you can make. Getting into the habit of spending more than you make will just lead to more debt and potentially unpaid bills. Too often, people use credit cards to buy something knowing that they can’t pay it off right away. The more you overspend on a credit card, however, the more interest you’ll pay. Pretty soon the money you spent adds up to even more money owed as you continue to leave a balance on your credit card each month.
If you’re using your credit card, make sure you pay it off each month. Don’t spend more than you make by putting everything on your card. If you can’t pay it off then you shouldn’t be buying it. Keep in mind that overspending affects your ability to pay your bills as well. If you overspend too much, you won’t be able to cover your other financial responsibilities.
Failing to budget
If you don’t have a budget in place, you are more likely to overspend, miss payments, or put off savings. A budget is a great way to set up a check and balance system for yourself. You should start by listing off all of your monthly expenses. Next, you’ll need to calculate your monthly income. A chapter 13 bankruptcy attorney from law offices of mark l. miller from san diego, california can offer valuable guidance. What you’re left with is your disposable income to save or spend on things like transportation, food, and entertainment. Things like gas or transportation costs maybe around the same amount of money each month. If this is the case, write those general figures out too. You should also include an estimate of how much you usually spend on food and groceries as well.
You’ll be able to tell pretty quickly in this exercise if you’re spending more than you’re taking in. If you see a big problem with this, it’s time to look at your budget and make some cuts. Budgeting is usually a pretty eye-opening experience the first time. You may not have realized how much you spend on eating out or how high your cable bill is. Seeing some of these things in writing will help you determine where you can cut back and where you can save.
After you’ve looked at all of your finances, your income, expenses and overall spending, it’s time to set your budget. If you need to make some changes, you can create a budget for groceries, eating out, and shopping, for example. Once you have your budget, make sure you include one for saving as well. Make sure you stick to your budget and check-in with yourself every couple of months to make sure you’re staying on track.
Putting off saving and investing
Too often people put off saving and investing because they feel like they don’t have enough to contribute. If you think you never have any money left over at the end of the month, you’re less likely to put a set amount of money away into savings. If you want to make serious financial changes, you need to slow down your spending and put away some money for saving and investing.
Once you’ve laid out your budget, one of the most important things you can do is plan for your savings. Make sure you leave some room in your budget for your emergency fund and retirement. If you have a 401(k) plan through your employer, saving for retirement is a no brainer. With a 401(k) the money is withdrawn from your paycheck each pay period and put into your 401(k) account. Your company may offer a matching program where they will match a certain percentage of your contribution. This is free money that your company is giving you and you’re wasting it if you’re not taking advantage of the benefit.
Not making financial goals
If you don’t have a financial goal in mind, all of your budgeting and savings may seem like a wasted effort. Think about what you what out of life, what your goals are and why you need to make some changes. If you have thousands of dollars in credit card debt, for example, maybe a financial goal could be to pay them all off. Whatever your bad habits are, take the time to recognize them and make the changes. Keeping track of your budget and goals will help keep you accountable and on your way to financial security.