11 Things You Do Every Month That Are Destroying Your Finances
by Helen R. Peacock, Finance Editor
Published in Finance on 10/10/2019
Paying For Cable
The average American pays more than $100 a month for cable TV services. This adds up over time, and realistically it's unnecessary. TV streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu have taken over, and are much cheaper in the long run. Shop around for the best service for you, depending on what you like to watch, and cut off that expensive cable TV bill.
Paying for Expensive Gym Memberships
We all want to be healthy, and if you're dedicated enough to go to the gym everyday and enjoy it, that's brilliant. But how many of us can actually say that we go to the gym often enough to justify the fairly extortionate costs, especially at some of the high-end gyms?
You could be saving hundreds of dollars every year by cancelling your gym membership and supplementing it with at-home or outdoor workouts. Invest in some dumbbells and a resistance band and you are well on your way to a healthy body and a healthy bank account.
Indulging Bad Habits
We all have bad habits that we'd like to kick, but when these bad habits are biting chunks out of your bank account every month, it's time to kick them to the curb right now.
Smoking is probably one of the most common bank-account draining bad habits, and it's addictive nature makes it particularly difficult to stop. The average smoker spends nearly $4000 every year on cigarettes. Now imagine that money sitting in your bank account and get to work becoming a better you.
To be honest, eating out could be considered a very bad habit when it comes to your finances. There's nothing so deceptively expensive and yet utterly enticing as delicious food, with no preparation required.
Whether it's grabbing your breakfast to-go from your local coffee shop, or eating lunch out every day while at work, the expenses will slowly rack up and become a ridiculous drain on your paycheck - money that could have been going into your savings will ultimately end up going down the drain. Instead of eating out every day, prep your meals in advance and start cooking at home as much as possible.
You have more control over what you eat and more control over your finances.
Using Your Credit Card Irresponsibly
Credit cards are one of those things that you either love or you hate. They give you the chance to buy whatever you want without really having to worry too much, but with this power tends to come financial irresponsibility, so you need to be extra vigilant in using your credit card responsibly and only when absolutely necessary.
When possible always try to save up for expensive items and pay upfront rather than spreading the cost out over many months. The reality is that you won't always be able to afford those monthly costs, especially if you haven't budgeted for them properly, and these monthly costs quickly add up to become a huge drain on your paycheck.
Driving A New Car (or having a car at all)
Cars are expensive, and yet so many people find themselves paying hundreds of dollars a month to pay off their brand new cars. Why? Older cars are considerably cheaper and considerably more affordable, and you may not even need to pay monthly at all. If you're trying to save money, buying an older car and getting it checked by a mechanic to make sure it's working well could save you literally thousands every year.
Even better, don't drive a car at all. Of course some people do need a car, but if you live in a well-connected city, you may not need one at all. Switching to public transport over a car can save you time and money (and the environment).
Paying A Monthly Smartphone Bill
Sure, getting the newest and "best" new smartphone may look and feel good, but at what cost? Hundreds of thousands of people tie themselves into new phone contracts every year without thinking about it, and end up losing a lot of money that they could have been saving.
Rather than going for the expensive new phone contracts, opt for buying an older sim-free phone, perhaps second-hand, and buying the sim separately. This is almost guaranteed to save you money in the long run, even though you might be spending more upfront. Those slightly older, second-hand phones work just as well as the new ones, and your bank account will thank you kindly for it.
Not Properly Budgeting
How many times have you written out a budget only to woefully underestimate how much your bills would cost or how much food you would eat and end up with nothing in your savings account, having completely lost track of where your money is going?
Budgeting is probably the most vital step in saving money and maintaining a healthy bank account, but so few of us actually know how to do it and end up ruining our budgets every month. However, there are lots of resources out there to help you up your budgeting game and keep you on track.
De-prioritising Your Savings
Everyone should be aiming to get at least a little bit of money into their savings account every month, because you never know when you're going to need that extra cushion of money. Rather than dipping into your savings every month for whatever reason, treat is as untouchable money and avoid using it at all costs, while still adding to it a reasonable amount every month.
Going On Nights Out
Going out is fun, and i'm by no means suggesting that you should stay indoors all the time and become a hermit, however, there is something to be said for limiting those expensive bar-crawls, clubbing expeditions and date nights at fancy restaurants. If you're trying to save money and stick to a budget, try to find cheaper options or opt for a night in once in a while.
Buying New Clothes
Everyone's a sucker for new clothes, especially as the seasons change, but they can be a huge drain on your bank account, especially if you don't really need them. Instead of buying brand new clothes every month, cut back on your spending or opt for cheaper thrift stores. You could even sell some of your old clothes to make room for any new ones that you really want or need.