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15 Things to STOP doing that are still making you broke! (Part 2)
Most of us have high hopes for a better financial situation this year. For some, that may mean saving more; for others, landing a better-paying job; and homeownership is still the American Dream for most families.
But before we can tackle this financial Bucket List and move forward, it’s important that we identify the money mistakes that we’re making that are continuously setting us back. We’ve identified 15 things that are common among the average American consumer, causing them to always be short on cash!
So, if you want this year to be your best yet for your finances and finally turn around your money mistakes, stop doing these 15 things!
In part one of this blog we covered the first seven things to stop doing if you don’t want to be broke, and here are the next eight:
- Not improving your credit score
Your credit score dictates so much about your financial picture, from credit card interest rates to mortgage payments, student loans to auto financing. But it also influences your insurance premiums, utility bills, and can even prevent you from getting a new job!
In fact, it’s estimated that for every 20 points you improve your credit score above sub-prime, you’ll save an average of $10,000 in interest and payments over the course of your life as a consumer!
The first step to improving your finances is always to take account of your present situation, so contact us for a free credit report and consultation!
- Not educating yourself about finances
Should you lease a car or buy it? What’s the best home loan for you? Should you be investing your money first or paying off your existing debt? From saving for retirement to healthcare options, choosing the right credit card to filing your taxes correctly, we can all stand to learn a lot about money.
However, too many people neglect to educate themselves when it comes to financial matters. Even worse, they often make critical financial decisions based on rumors, advice from their “expert” neighbor, or water cooler talk from coworkers. In fact, the average person spends much more time planning their vacation every year than they do planning for retirement!
Instead, empower yourself and make sure you have the best information to build a strong financial future by reading articles, credible blogs, books, and watching personal finance videos. You’ll be amazed what you learn in a very short time!
- Renting instead of buying a home
Home ownership is still the American Dream, and for good reason. In fact, there are a wide range of benefits to owning your own home instead of renting, from social, community involvement, family and, of course, financial advantages.
When you have a fixed rate mortgage, your monthly payment will never go up, but you’ll actually being paying it down to $0 over the years, owning your home free and clear. But when you rent, the monthly price can and will go up periodically, and you’re amassing no equity, no appreciation when the value goes up, and don’t even get tax advantages.
Studies show that the average homeowner has a 3.5x higher net worth than the average renter, as well as more savings, more funds for retirement, and pay less in total taxes. Their children are also more likely to do better in school, more likely to graduate from college and enjoy a much more stable and happier home life.
These days, with mortgage loans that are geared towards first-time buyers that require low down payments, there’s really no reason NOT to buy!
- Not planning for the future
Do you enjoy going to work every day, working long hours, coming home exhausted, and still only bringing home enough to live on until the next paycheck?
Well, get used to it, because many of us will be working way past traditional retirement age, or even well into their senior years. There’s no denying that Americans aren’t putting enough away to retirement comfortable any 65 (or anywhere close!). In fact, 40% of the workforce have nothing saved for retirement, and 60% aren’t on track.
But here’s the good news – you still have time to save, and the time-value of money dictates that the earlier you start investing, the faster your money will grow. So make sure you deduct the maximum retirement savings form your check, definitely take advantage of any employer matching, and focus on savings and acquiring assets that produce cash flow – not racking up debt and liabilities. You’ll thank me once you can retire on schedule!
- Straight up wasting money
New polls show that we have learned our lesson from the past recession. In fact, 55% of households are still spending more than they take in every month (the difference made up in debt), and our personal savings rates are at a rock-bottom 2.2% annually.
Of course, many of our costs – from rent to health care to food – have increased sharply over the last few years, so it always feels hard to get ahead. But we’re still spending – or wasting – money on a ridiculous list of things that show that we’re living well above our means.
Sure, the average person has a closet full of new clothes they hardly wear, but we’re even talking about things more substantial. For instance, it’s estimated that Americans spend $443 billion every year in wasted energy bills, with most people overpaying by a whole one-third!
And we’re all eating out at restaurants and on the go WAY too much, which is costing us.
The average American household now spends $6,759 on food every year but $2,787 of that total is for meals in restaurants or outside of the home. We also spend an average of $1,200 on fast food every year – or $117 billion!
We also spend $65 billion on soft drinks and $11 billion on bottled water every year, we dump countless billions gambling, and this one will blow you away: the average cigarette smoker puffs away 14% of their total income on cigs every year, which adds up to about $80 billion, or 1/7 of our total discretionary income budget!
Stop wasting your money on things you don’t need – and won’t even miss!
- Paying too much for your car loan (not your car)
Of course, we all need transportation to get to and from work, school, and home. And transportation costs actually remain reasonable, with low gas prices and car buying easier than ever. In fact, it’s not the cost of cars that’s eating up our budget, but the high price of the financing we’re using to purchase them.
In fact, the average monthly payment for a new car is now almost $500, as the typical car shopper is financing $28,524 at 16-28% interest rates over terms of 73 to 84 months! Ouch!
So before you go shopping for a car, talk to Nationwide Credit Clearing about improving your credit score so you’ll qualify for a better auto loan. Then, you’ll be free to purchase that fantastic new car – on your terms!
- Paying late
It’s hard enough to manage our finances and get ahead without choosing to spend more, but that’s exactly what we do when we pay our bills late.
In fact, about 1 in 4 U.S. adults don’t pay their bills on time, and only half of 18 to 34-year-olds do so. When we pay late, whether it’s a credit card, a phone bill, or our rent or mortgage, we get hit with unnecessary late fees.
The typical American pays $250 each year in late fees just to their bank! So always pay on time if you don’t want to be broke!
- Getting whacked with unnecessary fees and charges
Likewise, overdraft fees, ATM fees, and other extraneous fees from financial institutions are really putting a dent in our wallets. Banks charge their own consumers an average of $412 in overdraft fees every year, adding up to about $33 billion annually!
We also pay about $329 per year in ATM fees, and they’re often tacking on charges just for doing business with them on many checking and savings accounts! Make sure to read the fine print and pay attention to how much you’re wasting in fees!
Improve your finances this year starting with a free credit report and consultation from Nationwide Credit Clearing!
15 Things to stop doing that are making your broke!
Many of us set resolutions every new year, and chief among them is the goal to improve our finances. For some, that may mean saving more; for others, landing a better-paying job; and home ownership is still the American Dream for most families.
But before we can tackle this financial Bucket List and move forward, it’s important that we identity the money mistakes that we’re making that are continuously setting us back. We’ve identified 18 things that are common among the average American consumer, causing them to always be short on money and even hurting their families.
So, if you want 2018 to be the best year yet for your finances, stop doing these 15 things that are making you broke!
- Maxing out credit cards
We’re certainly a nation that loves debt, as we now have more than 1 trillion in credit cards and other revolving debt, an all-time high. Add in mortgages, student loans, car loans and medical debt, etc., and U.S. consumers personally owe more than $12.9 trillion – the GDP of about half the countries in the world!
In fact, the average adult with debt in the U.S. has 8 credit accounts, $16,000 worth of credit card debt alone, and is paying about $430 a month just in minimum payments.
While there’s nothing at all wrong with having credit cards and using them responsibly (you should keep some revolving debt), the problem comes when we max them out – with no plan to pay them off.
Paying only minimum payments means that the average $10,000 balance at 15% interest will take 15 years and about $22,000 to pay off completely.
Maxing out cards also impacts your credit score, since about 30% of your FICO is calculated by the amount of debt you hold compared to your total available credit (called credit utilization.)
So stop maxing out those cards and make more than just the minimum payment this year!
- Not saving
We understand that money is tight and there’s usually more month than paycheck; not the other way around. But one of the principal ways you can ensure that money isn’t always this tight in the future is to start saving. And there’s no better way to put away funds for a rainy day than automatically saving out of every paycheck (or tax refund).
In fact, the majority of Americans couldn’t even come up with $600 today without borrowing or selling something, and sudden financial setbacks like a job loss, medical problem, broken car or other unexpected expense can send about 40% of families into dire financial circumstances.
The best way to combat that – and make sure that you’re always prepared and won’t make even worse short-term financial decisions – is to save a certain percentage of your paycheck automatically, before you even see that money. To resist the temptation to spend it, keep a savings account without an ATM card so it’s not easy to access. You’ll be amazed how it adds up!
- Using payday loans, check cashing, and rip-off credit accounts
Remember how we just mentioned financial emergencies? When the roof leaks, someone gets sick, or the job starts laying people off, those cash crunches often result in people making panicked, short-term financial decisions just to get by. Frequently, those result in cash advances on credit cards, payday loans, using check cashing establishments, applying for a bunch of new credit cards at once, or looking for other personal loans.
The terms and interest rates on these loans can range from incredibly high and expensive all the way to usurious and illegal, and usually put people in a much worse financial situation than when they started.
- Making impulse purchases
Have you ever noticed that retail, department, and grocery stores line the checkout aisles with certain items? They do that on purpose, of course, because they understand that the majority of consumers will make impulse purchases; buying things they don’t need and didn’t plan on purchasing.
Just how much can you save by skipping the magazines, sodas, electronic knick-knacks, and other impulse purchases every month? Furthermore, do you even know how much you’re spending on coffee, lunches, and meals out? It all adds up.
Try this: For one month, carry around a little notepad (or just use your smart phone – there are great apps that help you track every dollar you spend), and write it down every time you spend a dollar. At the end of each week, add it all up according to categories. You’ll probably be shocked how much you’re spending on things you don’t need or necessarily even want – and that money could be going to savings, paying down your credit cards, or other good use.
- Not checking your credit periodically
Did you know that only 1 in 4 people check their credit report annually, and 60% of Americans don’t even know what their credit score is now? Checking your credit report regularly is so important for a host of reasons:
- 25% of credit reports contain errors, inaccurate or duplicate information.
- ID theft and credit fraud now affects nearly 10% of the population every year, and the recent Equifax Hack saw the personal data of about 167 million Americans compromised.
- These days, your credit score is so more important than just getting a mortgage or applying for a new credit card. Getting an apartment, the insurance rates you pay, your utility and cell phone accounts, and even getting a new job may depend on a clean credit report and a good score.
- Not looking into refinancing your mortgage
If you do own your home already, congratulations! While it may be the best investment you’ll ever make, there’s no denying that you’ll be paying it off for a long time (usually 30 years) and for a huge sum of interest – probably more than the original home price! So every smart homeowner should inquire with their mortgage broker if a refinance is available and something that would help them save.
It’s free to talk to your favorite loan officer and get an idea about your options, and lower-interest mortgages or refinancing into a product like a 15-year loan may save you tens (or even hundreds) of thousands of dollars over the years. You may even be able to save money on your monthly payment AND pay the home off faster, but the worst that can happen is that they tell you that you don’t need to make a change.
By the way, the better your credit score, the lower your interest rates and payments will typically be!
- Not reading the fine print
That 0% credit card offer sure looks great, but what will the rate be after that introductory period? Is that great low mortgage payment fixed, or will it go up as other interest rates rise? What are the fees and charges associated with that new student loan or business loan?
Too often, we’re offered new credit that looks like a no-brainer, but comes with some important stipulations that will make it way more expensive in the future.
Nothing is free in this world (except great credit advice from Nationwide Credit Clearing!), so make sure to read the fine print and know exactly what you’re getting into before you sign on the dotted line. Any loan, investment, or other financial vehicle is sure to come with fees, charges, and interest rate details that are crucial to understand. Read all you can but it’s also a good idea to ask questions – and get the answers in writing!
Look for part two of this blog soon, where we’ll cover the next eight things to stop doing if you don’t want to be broke!