Not having enough money to make it to the end of the month is one of the worst feelings I’ve ever experienced. A while back I wrote a blog post about what you should if you’re struggling to pay your bills and it really made me think about the kinds of habits that cause people to end up in that position in the first place.
My mission with Not Quite an Adult has always been to help people learn simple ways to improve their finances and live their best life, and having bad money habits is one of the simplest things you can change to turn around your future.
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23 Bad Money Habits That Are Keeping You Broke
1. You Think of Credit as Available Money
This is one of the biggest bad money habits that we need to eliminate as, and I’ve 100% been guilty of having this mindset from time to time. Have you ever thought about something you wanted but didn’t have enough money in your bank account for it? And then you think “oh, well… I have enough available credit on my card to pay for it, so I’ll just pay for it later!”
If you don’t have enough money in your bank account to pay for something, then you simply can’t afford it. If it is not food, or shelter, you don’t need it that badly and you can probably survive without it.
Credit cards should be a tool that we have at our disposal that we can use to help us meet our financial goals. You should never view your credit limits as money that you have available to spend because you’ll find yourself in huge amounts of debt and you’ll probably have a hard time digging yourself out.
- Recommended Article: 11 Credit Card Rules You Should Be Following
2. Paying For Banking
One of the silliest and most common ways for you to waste money, is to pay for banking. Banks are already getting rich off of things like interest payments, mortgages, and so much else that they shouldn’t be getting your money just for using their banks!
Luckily, we live in a technological age where you can get a free online bank really easily and it will save you a few hundred dollars a year.
For example, I’m Canadian and I use the free bank Tangerine. It’s convenient as heck and I haven’t paid a bank fee in over a year. If you’d be interested in signing up for Tangerine (Canadians only, unfortunately) you can use my orange code 50681730S1 when you sign up, you’ll get $50 for free when you deposit your first $100. Free money and no bank fees!
3. Having a Ton of Monthly Subscriptions
It seems like just about every service is a monthly subscription these days, with streaming services and online clothing subscriptions, it’s getting to a point where it’s almost unavoidable. However, monthly subscriptions are expensive and can really add up.
You should really take a few minutes and see which subscriptions you’re paying for figure out which ones you can get rid of.
Thankfully, there’s an app called Trim that can help be your personal finance manager and show you which subscriptions you’re paying for monthly, and how much you’re paying for them using its subscription analyzing tool.
Trim can then actually go in and cancel those subscriptions for you! Meaning it will save you a bunch of money and even do most of the heavy lifting.
4. Not Being Ready for Emergencies
Emergency planning is a vital part of personal finance, without emergency money you aren’t covered when life’s unexpected adventures happen. No matter what the situation, I’ll always recommend that you start an emergency fund.
When you have emergency money available to you, you won’t have to use credit cards for every minor inconvenience. Imagine having $20 in your bank account, no emergency money, and your car breaks down. What do you do? Chances are you’ll end up throwing that repair on a credit card and spending the next few months paying it off.
Now, let’s imagine a happier situation. You’ve been saving up for your emergency fund (3-6 months of expenses) and now you have your car break down. You’ve got $5,000 already saved and now you can completely cover the cost of repair without paying interest and definitely without the stress, sounds pretty awesome right?
- Recommended Article: How to Build an Emergency Fund: The Right Way!
5. You Ignore Your Credit Score
A lot of people don’t realize the importance of a credit score and what it can do for your finances. Having a good credit score can help you get lower interest rates and can help you save hundreds of dollars a year on things like your mortgage.
The best way to track your credit score and keep on top of it is using something like Credit Sesame! It’s an entirely free service that helps you keep track of your credit report and even can help with credit repair!
6. Not Tracking Your Spending
Tracking your spending is a really great money habit that you can develop and can allow you to see where your money goes each month and open your eyes to other bad money habits that you might help.
I’m not saying you need to track every single penny that you spend for the rest of your life, but it can be a great tool to do for a month or two to figure out where you can cut down items in your budget.
- Recommended Article: How to Use The Highlighter Method to Track Your Spending
7. Making Late Payments
Making late payments on credit cards or a bill is a huge negative for your finances in way too many ways. Not only is it a never ending cycle that you may never get out of, but you’re also throwing away money on late fees and hurting your credit score.
You should always try your absolute hardest to at least make the minimum payment (but, hopefully more) on all debt that you have even if you can’t afford to pay one penny more.
A few months ago, I missed my first ever credit card payment. Not because I couldn’t afford it but because I was stressed and completely forgot that I hadn’t paid it yet. I ended up paying $20 in late fees and my credit score dropped 35 points from just ONE missed payment.
If you continue to miss payments or pay late for a long time, you’re going to completely destroy your credit and waste a lot of money in the process.
8. You Love Convenience Items
A really big bad money habit that is just throwing money away is purchasing things like small pre-packaged snacks and pre-made salads or pre-cut fruit. These items have a huge price tag compared to their bulk counterparts and can really cost you money.
A bad money habit is valuing convenience over value and this can be really bad for your wallet!
9. Never Saving
It doesn’t matter how old you are, saving money is always a good idea. Unfortunately, most people don’t even think about saving money until they’re at least 30 because they’re so focused on having a fun life with their friends and partying every other day.
If you want to break any of these bad money habits, you need to start trying to save money as soon as possible. You can start with everyday ways to save money that are simple and don’t result in you needing to think too much. You can even check out these ways to trick yourself into saving money that honestly work like a charm.
Just making small changes to your everyday routine can change your entire life and get you a pretty significant nest egg in your bank account.
- Recommended Article: Beginner’s Guide to Saving Money
10. You Spend Money Every Day
When we spend money every single day we are seriously sacrificing our futures because most of the things we buy daily aren’t necessary for our lives to succeed. We need to be saving as much money as possible and adding in even just a few days where you don’t spend money can really help you.
If you want to start saving money more often, you can try and implement a few no spend days or even no spend weeks into your life, these are days where you only make sure your bills are paid and you have something to eat for dinner (but not eating out, of course) and you aren’t able to spend money on anything else.
11. Never Talking About Money
Have you noticed how taboo it is to talk about money? Why is that? It seems like we just aren’t allowed to talk about any of the topics that are actually important to be talking about.
If you go through your life never talking about money, you end up keeping a lot of those feelings down and it will just build up into stress and anxiety. If you don’t talk to your friends and family about money, they won’t know when you’re struggling and be able to help you.
Imagine if you have $5 in your bank account and your friends think you’re rolling in dough and they ask you to dinner… If you never talk to them about money, they won’t know why you’re cancelling last minute and you’ll have to make up an excuse.
Talking about money is extremely important in romantic relationships as well, obviously even more important than with your friends and family, but talking about money with your partner can be really hard. It’s important to start opening up those doors and really discussing your money struggles with your significant other.
- Recommended Article: 4 Money Conversations You MUST Have With Your Significant Other
12. Only Paying The Minimum Payment on Your Credit Card
The thing about minimum payments is that they are just minimums and aren’t going to get you very far. Did you know that the minimum payment on your credit card is just the amount that your interest is plus $10. This means you’ll only be making $10 worth of progress on your credit cards and they will take you forever to pay off.
If all you can afford to make is the minimum payment, that is way better than not paying anything at all, but you should always try your best to at least do a few dollars more based on whatever you can afford at the time!
13. Not Meal Planning
Meal planning seems to be one of those things that everybody is aware that they should do to save money, but so few of us actually do it. Having a meal plan can make it so you spend way less money on groceries, since you won’t be making random purchases that sound delicious at the time. And you’ll also be throwing away a lot less food.
I’ve been using $5 Meal Plan for help with meal planning for the past few years because I’m horrible at making recipes and coming up with interesting meals. This company will send you a weekly meal plan and a detailed grocery list for only $5 a month!
14. Making Impulse Purchases
Impulse buying is so satisfying in the moment but really, most of the time after about 5 minutes we’ve lost that amazing feeling and it can be really detrimental to our finances in the long run.
Let’s imagine this situation, you go to the same grocery store once a week for 10 years and you buy a $2 chocolate bar as an impulse decision while you wait to check out. Over that 10 year period, you’ve spent over $1,000 on chocolate bars in the grocery store checkout line. Imagine what you could have done with that $1,000!
A good rule of thumb is to wait at least 48 hours before making any small purchases and anything over $50 should use The 30 Day Rule to stop you from spending the money. So, next time you’re at the mall for something you actually need and you see a sweater you think you just can’t live without, just leave.
One of two things are going to happen, either you’ll completely forget that sweater exists or you’ll only think about the sweater for the next two days and that is how you’ll know it’ll be worth it.
- Recommended Article: How to Stop Overspending for GOOD!
15. Never Negotiating
When we’re in our 20s, negotiating isn’t something that many of us feel comfortable doing. It is extremely intimidating to go up to someone who is older and it feels like they’re in a position of power and ask them to change something.
However, there are so many instances where negotiating could not only save you money but could also make you money. You can make a 5 minute phone call to negotiate the price of your cell phone bill, your cable bill, the price of a used couch from craigslist, there are a ton of places where taking the time to negotiate can change your life.
16. You Convince Yourself You’ve Earned New Stuff
Have you ever been the type that when you have a really hard week, you tell yourself that you can buy a new shirt or go out to a fancy dinner because you’ve earned it? Well, I find that people who say this, say it often and even when they haven’t had that bad of a week.
If you’re feeling broke each and every day, you shouldn’t use the I’ve earned it excuse to buy things that you don’t actually need or can’t actually afford. Try your best to not use things as a reward, because that is one bad money habit that is hard to break.
17. Ignoring Your Debt
Something that a lot of people don’t think about when they’re building up debt is that your debt is never going to leave you. Your student loan debt will survive, even if you file for bankruptcy! It will genuinely never go away, and you can’t just ignore it.
A lot of people use avoidance as a coping mechanism for big issues like their soul crushing debt. I know people who have automatic payments set up to just pay the minimums on their student loans so they never actually have to think about them, but they’ll be paying them for the next 20 years.
Paying off your debt quicker is never a bad idea because debt isn’t really serving you any purpose and can really harm your future financial plans. You should try your absolute best to work hard on paying off your debts as soon as humanly possible. For you this could mean a few months, for some people it could mean a few years. Debt isn’t fun, so don’t ignore it.
18. Being Too Scared to Invest
Investing is a really scare thing to start doing, especially when we don’t fully understand what we’re investing in or how it works.
The first kind of investing you must do, is investing in your retirement fund and taking advantage of any employer match you may get for your 401(k). What a lot of people don’t realize, is that a 401(k) isn’t a savings account, it’s actually investing! So you may already be investing in your future, without even realizing it.
However, just investing for retirement isn’t going to be enough. You need to start investing in other things on your own, but you can start with small things like micro-investing!
There’s an awesome app called Acorns that will connect to your bank account and invest your spare change. For example, if you spent $4.72 at Starbucks, Acorns will invest $0.28 by rounding that purchase up to an even $5. This can be a great way to invest without ever having to think about the investments!
19. Keeping Up With The Joneses
This bad money habit is a really hard one to break, especially now with social media. It’s so insanely hard to not compare ourselves to others and to want everything that our friends and family members may have. The most important mindset shift you must make in order to do better with your money is to find ways to be content with what you have.
You don’t need to get that brand new car just because your coworker got one. You don’t need a new, bigger flatscreen TV because your friends are coming over to watch a football game. You definitely don’t need to spend money on designer clothes that you’ll eventually get sick of and just donate.
Keeping up with the Joneses is something that you must break before you leave your 20s, and if your’e still chasing someone else’s life when you’re in your 30s, you’ll have some serious work to do.
20. Staying Behind on Your Bills
Living paycheck to paycheck is a really stressful situation so really the ultimate goal is to get at least one month ahead on bills. When you’re only paying your bills for the month you’re currently in, you go through a lot of stress because there’s always a chance you won’t be able to cover them.
- Recommended Article: What To Do If You’re Behind on Bills and Struggling to Catch Up
21. Not Having a Budget
You know what’s kinda crazy to me? I read a statistic once that said that 1 in 3 homes don’t have a budget and most homes that do aren’t really going to stick to it. There are so many people who are struggling with debt and living paycheck to paycheck and budgeting could be a great answer to a lot of these problems.
When you have a budget, you have a better idea of where your money goes which means you spend less of it and you can use more of it as a tool. If you’re not sure where you should start when it comes to your budget, you should sign up for our newsletter and get our FREE 5 Days to a Beautiful Budget course!
22. Having a Budget, But Not Sticking To It
Although only 1 in every 3 families actually have a written budget that they’ve created, much less actually follow these budgets. Making a budget is just the first step!
Budgeting only works if you actually work it. You need to be tracking your expenses, and focusing on making simple cuts to your budget that actually make sense for your family.
23. You Make Excuses
So many of us are extremely guilty of convincing ourselves that once we hit a certain milestone or buy something new that we’ll start saving or start paying off our debt. Our brains are really great at finding the absolute perfect excuse for any situation.
If you really want to make a difference in your financial situation, it’s time you start kicking your excuses to the curb and really start being proactive with your finances and make plans to help your future.
Every single time you make a new excuse and participate in this bad money habit, you’re going to be sacrificing a part of your future. It could be paying for your child’s college tuition, or retiring a year early, or helping your parents pay off their hours. Each excuse is stopping you from doing something you really want to do.
Having bad money habits that you continue to build upon in your 20s and 30s can be detrimental to your future finances and can build up a lot of stress, so it’s best to get rid of some of these bad money habits ASAP! Which of these habits do you have? Let me know in the comments!