Everybody blows a little money now and then, but some people make it a habit. To help you take control of your finances and keep more cash on hand, financial advisors suggest diligently avoiding these six common money mistakes:
1. Keeping up with friends. One way to get into financial trouble is trying to match someone else’s lifestyle. Sticking to a budget may mean missing out on a few indulgences, but the upside is a manageable credit card bill you can pay off in 30 days without paying interest fees.
2. Paying interest on credit cards. Speaking of interest rates, paying 20 percent on a credit card while earning 0.2 percent on your savings is costing you plenty. Leave yourself an emergency cushion, but use the bulk of your savings to pay off that credit card debt. If you don’t have savings to draw from, refer back to No. 1 (above) and start living a cash-only lifestyle.
3. Buying new instead of used. These days, 100,000 miles is just the halfway point for a lot of cars, so buy one used that has already depreciated and comes with a lower monthly payment. Consider buying used for other goods as well, such as books, sports gear and appliances.
4. Signing up and spacing out. Be alert to automatic renewals and ongoing monthly charges for services you no longer use. Scan your monthly bills carefully. If you don’t want that extra phone service, gym membership, subscription or extra cable network you’ve been paying for, pick up the phone and cancel it.
5. Ignoring your employer’s 401(k) match. You’re throwing away money if you don’t claim every dollar your employer will contribute to your retirement plan. Find a way to put in more of your own money, even if it means giving up that morning latte. (Wake-up call: That $5 coffee every day is costing you about $150 a month, or $1,800 a year. Enough said.)
6. Letting bank fees drain your account. Switch to a bank that offers free checking. Avoid using out-of-network ATMs, and stay on top of your balance to avoid overdraft fees.
Saving money can seem daunting, but with a little dedication, these six tips will help fatten your wallet.