Lots of us try to make changes to our finance and never seem to get anywhere. Sometimes it’s just a case of bad luck, where unforeseen expenses just keep putting you back two places. But more often than we’d care to admit, we’re actually sabotaging ourselves. Could you be messing it all up with one of these 11 money sins?
1. Refusing to change
Refusing to make changes to your spending habits is a sure fire way to bugger up your progress. Delve deep and commit to small changes if you want to see results.
2. Making excuses to withdraw from your savings
I think I’ve used every excuse under the sun over the years. ‘Oh but I had a hard day’, ‘oh but it’s my birthday soon so I’ll just pay myself back if I get given any money’. ‘I’ll just buy this and then I’m done.’ Don’t make excuses – it might even help to write out all your common excuses and ban them!
3. Planning but not doing
Ah, a classic. You can read all the books, write out all the different ways of budgeting, or set up as many Barefoot Investor-inspired savings accounts as you like. If you don’t do ‘the thing’, nothing will happen. If you’ve read a book that says track your spending, actually track your spending. If you’ve set out a budget for the month, actually stick to it. Your efforts are worthless without follow through.
4. Looking too far ahead
I used to do this all the time. In a pit of despair about my spending habits, I’d sit down and write out how much I could save if I stashed ‘x’ amount each week. Mentally I’d be thinking ‘great, in 51 weeks I’ll have ten grand, phew!’ But really, I didn’t have $10k at all, I had a plan that I needed to stick to. Looking too far ahead can lull you into a false sense of security that everything will be okay. It’ll only be okay if you take action.
5. Not looking far ahead enough
On the flip side, thinking too short term isn’t a good idea either. I hear people saying ‘oh I’m choosing to enjoy my twenties and not buy property until I’m older.’ That’s fine, but how will you afford property when you’re 33 with two kids and still renting? Some part of your mindset has to be focused on the future.
6. Being guided by other people
Letting other people guide you is a shortcut to financial sabotage. If you say ‘no, no, I’d better not, I’m trying to be more sensible with my spending’, but allow your friends to convince you otherwise, your progress will be derailed faster than you can order that bottle of expensive wine.
7. Feeling embarrassed about saving money
In a similar way, feeling embarrassed about admitting that you don’t want to spend $200 on Kanye tickets because you’re trying to save money or get out of debt won’t get you anywhere either. Find ways to assert your authority over those who lead you astray.
8. Binge spending/saving
When you’re on a crash diet, often you’ll eat mega clean for 2 weeks and then stuff your face with pizza and soft drinks. It’s called binging, and you can do the same with your money. If you go on a total miserable spending ban and avoid going outside for a month for fear of accidentally buying something, there’s every chance you’ll rebound. Don’t use the excuse that you ‘haven’t treated yourself in ages’ to justify stuff you don’t need. Instead, find ways to treat yourself in a way you can afford on a regular basis.
9. Copying other people
Whether you’re copying their lifestyle and doing things you can’t afford, or copying their financial mindset, doing something someone else’s way is never wise. Just because they’re investing in shares doesn’t mean that’s the right strategy for you. If they’ve got a new car, that doesn’t mean it’s worth you buying a new one too.
10. Becoming obsessive
A bit like the binge spending, becoming obsessive over your money isn’t worth it. The key to financial freedom is finding ways to naturally spend less than you earn, and to maximise your earnings as best you can. If you’re too obsessed with saving every last cent, you don’t open yourself up to abundance, and money becomes a negative chore.
11. Estimating income or expenses
Estimating how much you’ve got in your bank account is a recipe for disaster. I’d often go out and have lunch with a friend thinking ‘oh this is fine because I made extra money last week from selling such and such’. But often, I’d have made $20, and I’d have spent $50! The same goes for expenses. Guessing what your food shop will be, or mentally adding up how many times you tapped your debit card on Saturday night is dangerous. You’ll never be right, and you’ll get a shock when you open your banking app! If you need to estimate, for example when planning a friend’s birthday or buying a gift, always overestimate. That way, you know you’ve set enough money aside.