If managing your money was easy, no one would ever have to file for bankruptcy. But the fact is that hundreds of thousands of people have to go through bankruptcy every year. A lot of the time it’s not because of any obvious fault on their part. However, there are some common money mistakes that can quickly get you into trouble. These are some of the top money mistakes, and how to avoid them.
Not Tracking Your Spending
Keeping track of your cash flow is an essential part of your financial health. Not knowing the comings and goings of your money can lead to surprising amounts of financial waste. Even people who are in a decent place with their money can benefit from keeping track of expenses.
Finding ways to cut costs will put more money in your pocket, which can then be used for things like building an emergency fund or retirement account. This is easier than ever today thanks to the various budgeting apps out there. Simply downloading one to your phone and linking your accounts can give you an in-depth look into your spending without much effort.
Not Paying Down Credit Cards
Credit cards can be a great tool when they’re used to your advantage. In fact, they’re one of the best ways to make money simply by spending it if you take advantage of cash-back programs. However, carrying balances on your credit cards will totally wipe out any benefits you can receive from them.
Credit cards carry some of the highest interest rates of any type of debt. The longer you take to pay off your balances, the more you’ll end up paying in interest. The solution is to only use credit cards in amounts that you can afford to repay. If this is too difficult in your current situation, it might be best to avoid credit cards altogether.
Paying Off Debt the Wrong Way
No one wants to have debt. But there are right ways and wrong ways to go about paying it back. These strategies will depend on how much and what kind of debt you’re dealing with.
The idea of paying off a mortgage over 30 years can seem really intimidating. A lot of interest can accumulate over that much time. However, it’s often not in your best interest—no pun intended—to pay off a low-rate loan early. This is because your money can be put to better uses, like saving for retirement.
No matter how much or what kind of debt you have, you need to approach it with a plan. Failing to do this can lead you to a place where your debt has gotten out of control. For individuals already in this boat, debt relief might be the best solution. Looking at Freedom Debt Relief reviews show that many consumers have used settlement to get out from under thousands of dollars of credit card balances and medical bills. A reputable program can sometimes eliminate toxic forms of unsecured debt in 24 to 48 months, often for less than the original amount due.
Not Investing Your Money
Hoarding your money under the mattress might seem prudent but is actually a huge money mistake. First of all, having too much cash can be dangerous since it’s gone if you lose it or become a victim of theft. Beyond that, your money isn’t growing if it’s just sitting in cash. Not only is it stagnant, it’s likely losing value when you factor in inflation.
Having some safe investments in things like low-cost index funds can make your money work for you. While there are going to be down times in the markets, the overall trend is staggeringly upward. Investing your money is typically the right call for the long term.
Not Getting Insurance
You might try to skip or skimp on your insurance to save a few bucks. This can actually be a huge mistake. Having the right insurance might save you thousands—or more—in certain situations. Even though it can be annoying in the present, insurance is what protects your financial future.
Making Big Financial Commitments That Don’t Generate Return
Think carefully before you spend a large sum of money on something. Is that thing likely to increase in value, or help you earn more money, over time? If the answer is ambiguous, or a flat-out “no,” you might want to reconsider.
Houses and education are two things that are generally considered to be worthwhile in these departments. Sailboats and sports cars—not so much. Make sure you’re very comfortable with your finances before you purchase anything expensive that might not hold its value.
There’s no perfect way to handle your money. However, you can at least avoid these money mistakes now that you know about them.