How good are you at managing your money? Some of us are better than others, keeping careful track of our finances with help from budgeting tools and software or by simply being frugal and careful when we spend. Others, however, don't seem to get the hang of it, and there are usually some very good reasons why. One reason is that you have a carefree way of thinking about money and how you should save or spend. Be on the alert for this, because your money could be draining away more easily than you initially thought. If you catch yourself adapting some of the behaviors listed below, then it could be time to take a closer look at how you are handling your money!
[In Pictures: 12 Money Mistakes Almost Everyone Makes]
1. There’s no hurry to open your bills when they arrive. You can open them tomorrow, right? It’s never pleasant to open bills, but if you don’t do it as soon as they arrive, you can easily overlook them, forget all about them, and end up incurring late payment charges. This will cost you a lot of money over time, and also ruin your credit history.
2. You tend to minimize the impact of debt. After all, everyone has debt on their credit cards, don’t they? This may be true, but just because everyone else carries debt, doesn't mean that you should be too comfortable with the amounts you owe. Remember that no one is going to pay it off for you. Ideally, you should avoid getting into debt in the first place, but if you have any remaining balances to pay off, consider consolidating your debt by using 0 percent intro APR credit cards, or take a look at debt reduction programs to ease your load.
3. You invest in schemes to try and make some quick cash. There will always be scams involving money. These schemes will make dollar signs pop in your eyes when you hear about them, and the amount of earnings they promise will inevitably reel people in. But they always turn out to be huge mistakes that cause you to lose your investment—and more. Always think sensibly: if a scheme sounds too good to be true, then you should pass it up. For instance, don't enter into high risk ventures with your eyes closed. If you want to invest your money, understand how risk and return work together (the higher the risk, the higher the return). Most people should really avoid this, but if you're going to insist on day trading, you should practice with paper trading first.
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4. You live for today and worry about how you’ll pay for it all tomorrow. Unfortunately, tomorrow arrives sooner than you think, and then you'll have to face paying your bills. We’re not suggesting that you don’t splurge a little every now and then, but if you focus solely on today and never think about tomorrow, you'll end up with debt following you around for a long time. Refer back to number 2 in our list.
5. You use your credit card for impulse purchases. Do you buy on impulse? The stores certainly love it when you do this—but your credit card isn’t as happy, and neither will you be if you do it often. Your balance can spiral out of control if you take your credit cards out shopping with you too often. Impulse buying is something you can control more easily if you decide to use cash with every purchase. You are in total control of your money situation—if you want to be. Reassessing the way you think about money and improving your approach to spending and saving should help you establish a healthy relationship with your finances.
Silicon Valley Blogger is a full time blogger and online entrepreneur who writes for The Digerati Life and The Smarter Wallet sites that cover general personal finance topics ranging from investing and saving to credit and debt management.