5 habits that are making you broke

It’s less than two days past payday and your checkbook’s bottom line is looking a bit unhealthy. Do you ever where your money goes? Do you track it or does it simply seem to trickle through your fingers until it’s gone? Everyone has his or her blind spot when it comes to mindless spending. Here are the top five habits that can make you broke, and advice on how to kick those habits and keep more money in your wallet.

1.  Carrying a lot of cash – Paying for a $2 cup of coffee with a credit card is as bad as carrying a lot of cash. Having a wallet full of cash makes you feel as though you have extra money, it’s likely you don’t, though. Make it a habit of only carrying enough cash for what you need for an outing. Leave the rest at home, or in your checking account. It’s great to avoid using plastic for your purchases as that makes your money seem to disappear. If you prefer to deal in cash, though, try budgeting yourself using the “envelope” method – each time you get paid, portion your funds into envelopes to meet various expenses – rent, entertainment, groceries, etc.

2.  Saving your online payment information with vendors – It’s so convenient, isn’t it, when the vendors you deal with online keep your information stored securely away for you just waiting for your next shopping visit. It certainly makes the shopping experience easier, but beware, it also makes you more prone to impulse shopping because you aren’t taking the time to physically pull out your credit card and fill in the information.

 3.  Window shopping and blind spots – Some days it’s just fun to browse the aisles at your favorite stores – whether virtual or actual – just as it’s fun to skim through online stores and catalog pages. Virtual and catalog shopping is tempting but it leads to poor financial habits that take true effort to break. If you have a particular weakness be it shoes, electronic equipment or gourmet foods, you need to be aware of those and avoid your weak spots. Also, you need to know yourself and your shopping habits. Do you shop after a bad day at work? When you’re bored? Angry? Keep your emotions – and your checkbook – in check by being aware of your particular shopping habits.

4.  Put the scissors away – Don’t clip unneeded coupons. Sure, coupons are great money savers if you truly need the products for which you are clipping. Do you really need to try out that new, trendy spaghetti sauce or those new plastic storage containers? If you don’t then don’t give into the lure of a coupon. Keep in mind, too that many generic products perform, and taste, just as well as the name brands and generics don’t typically come with coupons. Weigh the benefits before you whip out the coupons.

5.  Impulse purchases – You’ve had a long day at work, the car broke down and the kids need to get to sports practice and to top? it off, you haven’t planned anything for dinner. What do you do? Go for takeout? It’s estimated that the average family of four spends close to $4,000 a year on take out food! That is a habit that can make you broke in a hurry. The way to break the take-out habit? Plan a weekly menu. Plan quick and easy meals for the days when the family schedule is jam packed. Also, remember to plan for brown bag lunches.

The bottom line is that it takes time and effort to break your bad financial habits. Physically tracking your spending by writing down every purchase you make with cash and credit, for a two week period, will let you see the holes in your spending and plug them up with better budgeting practices.

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