By Cameron Huddleston
You may be sabotaging your financial well-being without even knowing it.
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Behaviors that might seem inconsequential, or perhaps even beneficial, could be preventing you from getting ahead.
“Destructive money habits will keep you poor and in debt unless you change them,” said Thomas Corley, author of “Rich Habits: The Daily Success Habits of Wealthy Individuals.” To change these actions, you first must become aware of them, he said. Here are three common money behaviors you should stop now.
WATCHING TOO MUCH TV
During his five-year study of wealthy and low-income individuals for his book, Corley found that more than 77 percent of poor adults admitted they watched more than an hour of TV a day; 74 percent said they spent more than an hour a day on the Internet. By contrast, 67 percent of rich adults he interviewed said they watched less than an hour of TV a day and 63 percent spent less than an hour each day on the Internet.
“When you’re wasting your time watching TV, on social media or reading for entertainment, it leaves little time to do productive things like reading to learn, building relationships with other success-minded individuals via networking or volunteering or building a side business,” Corley said.
Not only will ditching cable free up more time to be productive but you can also save on that monthly bill.
It’s easy to lose sight of where your money is going unless you take the time to monitor your cash flow. Corley said that the wealthy individuals he studied made a habit of tracking their spending in the early days of building their wealth. Most low-income individuals said they did not monitor their spending.
“If you don’t have a lot of money, you need to get into the habit of tracking every penny,” Corley said. You can track your spending with a spreadsheet or even free mobile apps, such as Mint.
Another approach to limit spending may be to ask yourself before making a purchase whether it will take you away from your goals. “This question habit eliminates any need for budgeting or self-discipline by replacing it with awareness that occurs at the point of spending,” said Todd Tresidder, financial coach at FinancialMentor.com.
PAYING BILLS LATE
One in four adults do not pay their bills on time, according to a recent National Foundation for Credit Counseling survey. Paying a bill late every now and then won’t wreck your finances. But if that becomes a routine practice because you don’t have a good bill paying system in place, then you’re hurting your financial well-being in several ways.
For starters, you’re getting hit with costly late fees so you’ll have less money to cover your bills. Moreover, routinely paying bills late might prompt your credit issuers to hike your interest rates or lower your credit limit, according to the NFCC.
If you’re more than 180 days late on a payment, your debt typically is assigned to a collection agency or debt collector. Having debt in collections will lower your credit score and will remain on your credit report for seven years, according to the credit monitoring site myFICO. What’s worse, your wages can be garnished to pay the debt you owe.
Set up automatic payments through your financial institution or through the company that is billing you to avoid paying bills late. If you need help, call your bank or service provider to walk you through the process.
Cameron Huddleston writes for GOBankingRates.com, a leading portal for personal finance news and features, offering visitors the latest information on everything from interest rates to strategies on saving money, managing a budget and getting out of debt.