Being financially literate means you have a good grasp on your finances, as well as what are considered positive financial habits. Maybe you contribute to your 401(k) regularly, keep an emergency savings fund on hand and work hard to pay down debt because you understand the consequences of accruing interest.
On the other hand, there are some common behaviors that may seem small, but can significantly impact financial wellness over your lifetime. From avoiding opening a bill to splurging on your nights out, most of us are guilty of a few bad financial habits.
Below we’re discussing how you can identify your own costly hang-ups and work through them to create a strong foundation of positive financial decision-making now and through retirement.
4 Common Money Mistakes
There are a few common scenarios we tend to fall into time and time again with our money.
Mistake #1: You Play Victim to Your Debt
If you keep telling yourself you’ll never get out of debt, it can make it much harder to overcome. Convinced the task is impossible likely means you’ll put less effort into trying to do anything about it.
Mistake #2: You Don’t Plan for the Future
The earlier you start saving, the harder your money will work for you in preparing for retirement. It can be tough to think (or care) about retirement in your 20s and 30s, but putting a small (but consistent) amount in retirement savings every month through your early adult years could mean thousands more you’ll have to withdraw in your 60s and 70s.
Mistake #3: You Aren’t Prioritizing Properly
One of the hardest things to do when it comes to improving financial wellness is to strike a balance between your needs and wants of today with the financial security of your future. When you’ve got your own retirement to think about, aging parents and kids headed off to college - how do you know what to spend and where?
Prioritizing your finances properly typically requires the help of a knowledgeable financial advisor who can help you stay focused and organized.
Mistake #4: You Don’t Have a Distribution Strategy
Saving enough for retirement is really half the battle. The other half? Distributing your retirement income in an effective and tax-efficient way. Heading toward retirement with no distribution strategy in place could create unnecessary tax burdens and financial distress.
Conquering Bad Behaviors
Conquering bad (or unproductive) financial behaviors takes persistence and self-discipline. There’s no quick fix, and you should expect changes to be gradual. Below are a few of our tips for conquering bad behaviors that may be affecting your financial wellness.
Tip #1: Be Mindful With Spending
With online shopping and contactless pay, buying is easier than ever. This, unfortunately, can make it easy to be impulsive and unintentional with your spending. Before a purchase, take a step back and determine whether or not this buy is in line with your greater financial goals.
Tip #2: Don’t Let Financial Paperwork Pile Up
Avoiding a bill or bank statement doesn’t make it go away - but it does increase the chance of incurring late fees and penalty charges. If you aren’t already, get organized with your statements and other financial paperwork. Work on conquering any anxiety you may have surrounding unpaid bills or bank balances and remember that ignoring them won’t make them go away.
Tip #3: Create an Emergency Fund
By creating and contributing to a savings account regularly, you can save your future self headache and financial worry. Remember to boost your emergency savings. In fact, adding to your savings account should be a top priority in your monthly budget.
Tip #4: Make a To-Do List
The truth is, there’s almost always something you could be working on when it comes to boosting your financial wellness. Reviewing insurance coverage, updating your will, outlining future goals, etc. - the list can continue on indefinitely. If it feels overwhelming, start writing down everything on your financial to-do list. From there, prioritize tasks that should be taken care of now and make a game plan for those you can work on later down the line. Breaking it down and crossing one thing off your list at a time can help make financial wellness much more manageable.
While it can be difficult to break old financial habits, it’s certainly not impossible. Finding financial wellness is a constant work in progress, but identifying your own areas for improvement and implementing small changes can yield impressive results. It’s important to ask your financial advisor for help as well. Tell them what bad behaviors you’d like to break, and they can help determine the most effective way to do it.
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