If you occasionally stress over money, you’re not alone. Only 51% of Americans said they were financially secure, according to the March 2015 Pew Survey of American Family Finances.
55 % of respondents reported breaking even or spending more than they make each month, and 33% indicated they had zero savings. Chances are you should be saving more and spending less. Instead of waiting for your situation to improve magically, look at some of the not-so-good money habits you may have developed over the years.
I spent five years studying the daily habits of more than 350 rich and poor people. In my best-selling book Change Your Habits, Change Your Life, I expose the financial practices responsible for creating wealth. Long before the self-made millionaires in my study became wealthy, they forged certain money habits that most everyday people don’t practice.
Habits—unconscious behaviors, thinking, and decisions—have a purpose: They conserve brain fuel by allowing us to perform tasks without thinking. These ingrained reactions and mindsets chart a course for success in every aspect of life.
Recognizing a problem is the first step toward fixing it, so you must be aware of any habits that could derail your success. Here are ten bad boys that can disrupt financial security, plus my prescriptions for curing them. You have it within you to make these changes. Make this the year you cull your broke habits and cultivate new wealthy ones.
Broke Habit 1: You spend too much on housing.
Housing costs, of course, start with rent or a mortgage but also may include property taxes, utilities, insurance, repairs, and maintenance. Housing costs are the most significant component of your spending, so keeping them as low as possible is imperative.
My research shows that total housing costs should equal 25% of your net monthly income. Sixty-four% of the wealthy in my study kept their housing costs below 25%. My study also found that those who spent more than 40% of their net income on housing costs struggled more financially.
But my research may be understating the problem. According to the 2015 report Projecting Trends in Severely Cost-Burdened Renters: 2015-2025 by Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies and Enterprise Community Partners Inc., more and more families’ monthly housing expenses exceed 50%of their net monthly income.
Broke Habit 2: You spend too much on cars.
Like housing costs, car spending can consume far too much monthly net income. New cars lose value as soon as they roll off the lot. Consider buying high-quality used vehicles to avoid losing the big bite of the initial depreciation. Forty-four% of the rich in my study purchased used cars, typically a 2- or 3-year-old vehicle coming off a lease. And these wealthy individuals then kept their cars for a long time.
Yes, like a car age, you’ll incur repair costs; those typically kick in at 125,000 miles. After this point, expect to cough up about $1,500 a year for repairs, which is still significantly less than the cost of a loan or a lease for a new car.
Be smart: Buy quality used cars and drive them until the wheels fall off. That’s what 94% of the self-made millionaires in my study did. It’s a good money habit.
Broke Habit 3: You develop habits by association.
We pick up almost all of our habits from those in our environment: parents, teachers, family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, mentors, celebrities, coaches, etc. When it comes to money habits, this could be positive or negative.
If you have less-than-stellar money habits, it’s likely that many of the individuals you associate with regularly also have trouble managing money. Their lousy spending and savings habits can rub off on you—a night out on the town with a friend can ring up an unexpected $300 expense, or a vacation can turn into significant debt.
Think long and hard about how your friends and the people you associate with daily (co-workers and family members, for instance) affect your spending and savings habits. After all, if you surround yourself with good spenders, you’ll likely become one, too.
If you want to adopt good money habits, associate with people who possess positive habits and pull back from those who don’t. If all of the close friends, relatives, and role models in your life share your desire to live below their means, their good money habits are almost guaranteed to become your good money habits.
Broke Habit 4: You rely on credit cards to finance your lifestyle.
When you spend everything you make, you’re not saving; worse, spending more than you make forces you into debt to maintain your standard of living. If you resort to using a credit card to meet your monthly living expenses, you are l,iving beyond your means by definition. When you do this, you are essentially using future earnings to finance your current lifestyle.
Broke Habit 5: You spend on a whim.
During the mid-1970s, a crew of behavioral scientists, psychologists, fitness professionals, and professionals from different disciplines launched a formidable observation of more than 1,000 youngsters born within the equal one-12 months in Dunedin, New Zealand.
The researchers intended to research every child’s strength of mind and determine, forty years later, how the youngsters had been doing in life. They observed that the youngsters who exhibited the best power of mind grew as much as they grew to be wealthier. Self-manipulate emerged because the unmarried best predictor of monetary achievement withinside the observation.
Spontaneous spending is pushed via way of means of feelings and a loss of strength of mind. You’re wiped out after half an hour of wheeling a cart across the store, something now no longer for your listing catches your eye on the checkout counter, and you unexpectedly purchase an object that wasn’t for your purchasing listing.
Stores capitalize on this strength of mental weakness. They have advertising professionals who install product placements in checkout strains to make the most of the chance of impulse purchases.
Spontaneous spending is an unconscious act, so the treatment is awareness. Awareness activates the aware part of your mind that can overpower your unconscious. When tuned into this advertising ploy, you’ll discover it simpler to paste into your listing. That results in a sense of manipulation over your spending. With repeated triumphs, you improve your strength of mind-muscle tissues, so you’re much less at risk of retailers’ tactics.
Broke Habit 6: You gamble too much.
In my study, 77% of poor people gambled on the lottery weekly, and 52% bet on sports every week. The odds of winning the Powerball are 1 in 292.2 million.
Bob Martin, the late manager of Las Vegas’s first casino sportsbook, was once quoted as saying the number of bettors who win betting pro football is so small that “it is virtually the same as if no one won.” According to Sports Insights, a sports bettor has only a 2.3% chance of winning 53.2% of game bets.
Accumulating wealth is an ongoing process, not something that happens overnight. Save the money you might ordinarily spend playing the lottery or gambling on sports. Slow and steady always wins the financial-fitness race.
Broke Habit 7: You overspend on entertainment.
Spend no more than 10% of your monthly net income on entertainment. Entertainment includes vacations, hotels, recreational travel, restaurants, bars, movies, theater, toys, games, entertainment equipment such as TVs and speakers, etc. Most who struggle financially spend far more than 10% on entertainment.
These individuals have a live-for-today mindset, which may sound appealing. Still, that mindset becomes tricky if you live a long life—plan on living a long, financially secure life and reduce your entertainment spending today.
Broke Habit 8: You don’t save.
Self-made millionaires make a habit of saving. The more you can save early, the more wealth you’ll accumulate. Ninety-four % of the self-made millionaires in my study developed the habit of saving 20% of their income during their pre-millionaire years.
Broke Habit 9: You don’t track your spending.
Knowing wherein your cash is going offers, you manage your finances. You can also additionally locate you’re purchasing belongings you don’t use—health clubnasium memberships or streaming subscription services, for instance. Also, many prices can extrude over time.
If you’re now no longer monitoring what you spend, you’ll by no means recognize you should buy something for much less cash. A desirable instance of that is covered. Insurance prices regularly extrude over time. Make positive you pay the bottom coverage fees for homeowners, auto, and existence coverage. Internet and cable prices can boom or lower without you being aware; calling your carriers to steady the bottom charges to be had have to be an annual process.
Periodically keep phone plans, too. Increased opposition withinside the mobile enterprise is using down month-to-month fees. Make optimistic you don’t pay greater than necessary on your telecellsmartphone service—and all your different routine prices.
Broke Habit 10: You don’t bargain shop.
Make bargain-hunting a habit. Some of the wealthiest individuals in my study shopped at Goodwill stores. Looking for the best deals, clipping coupons, seeing movies during the early discount showings, and shopping around for the lowest price will add up. Put the cost difference into your savings account.