There are lots of ways to make a great living. There are also lots of ways to not make great financial gains. Here are the top ten mistakes that people in the USA make related to their personal finances. If you are among those that find several of these to be behaviors you engage in and your financial situation needs improving, then consider starting to get better by picking just one and changing how you approach your money. After that first new and improved habit is firmly in place, then pick another. Before you know it, your financial situation could be vastly improved!
1. Not Budgeting
Creating a budget is not complicated. At the end of the month look online at your credit card purchases, checks written, and so on and make a chart of expenses. Also include in that chart all of your income for the month. Then analyze where you can save money and/or earn more. Set a goal to change a few expenditures in certain categories and/or making more money by doing something additional to what you already are. Then, stick to your plan!
2. Using High Interest Credit Cards
Pay them off. As quickly as possible. Use additional funds from the budget you are now operating with.
3. Not Talking About Your Financial Situation with Others
Whether a trusted friend, spouse, colleague or family member, you could be enlisting help from someone who cares about you. From having an accountability partner to stop frivolous spending to borrowing money to pay off higher interest rate debt, there are people in your life you should share your financial behavior with.
4. Handling Insurance Incorrectly
Most Americans pay too much for homeowners insurance by way of having too much coverage. And, most Americans wait too long to obtain life insurance, to the point that premiums are higher when it is purchased due to being older. So, take some of the money you can gain from lowering your home insurance premiums and get life insurance while you are younger.
5. Not Honoring the Importance of Credit Scores
It used to be that credit scores influenced whether or not you could get a home or car loan. Now, they influence whether or not you can get insurance, interest rates on home and car loans, or even whether or not you can cash checks at certain establishments. There are lots of ways to improve your credit score. But you have to start by respecting the fact that your credit score really matters.
6. Not Having An Emergency Fund
We know it can be hard to just make ends meet, much less save a lot. But, it is important psychologically and economically to know you could financially survive a few months if something catastrophic happened, such as losing your job, getting seriously ill, or having your home destroyed. Try to build a three month emergency fund. Where do you get the money for this? Look at your budget, cut expenses on something unneeded (did you read David Shoup's personal story on not buying soda? Consider this or something like it, such as coffee, lunch, etc. Everyday take the money you would have spent on these items and put it into an emergency fund.
7. Ignoring Legitimate Additional Income Opportunities
Do you have a clever idea that the world needs to know about? Write an e-book. Do you have an eye for antiques and can sell them for more than you paid for them? Open an online store. Are you a retired early riser? Get a paper route. Do you love kids and have weekends free? Become a youth sports referee. There are an unlimited number of opportunities for you to make more money with little or no time needed. The extra $100, $200, or $300 a month adds up!
8. Not Having Catastrophic Medical Insurance
Full fledged, full coverage medical insurance policies are very, very expensive. Most people cannot afford to pay for these. However, the cost of insurance to cover only the most financially devastating accidents or illnesses, with high deductibles and routine medical care not covered, are a good value to assure that you won't have to spend a lifetime of savings or years of annual salary on your medical care. With Obamacare there are likely several options to consider in your state that can protect you from debilitating medical expenses.
9. Not Making Investments
Whether relatively predictable and shrewdly purchased real estate, historically stable stocks, municipal bonds, or other lower risk investment devices, it makes sense to invest in something that can generate increased savings or retirement funds. If nothing else, make a small investment and then forget about that money. Then, five years from now see how much you have made off of that original investment.
10. Spending More Than You Make
The granddaddy of them all. Know exactly how much you make. Spend less than that, even if it means selling your home to find a less expensive one, trading in your car for one that is as reliable but doesn't cost as much to operate, or by hosting parties rather than going out to dinner. Spend less than you make.