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Top 10 Habits That Are Cutting Into Your Budget

January 09, 2018

We all know the feeling of scraping the depths of a bank account at the end of the month. For some of us, it’s more of a regular occurrence than we like to admit. You may wonder how you find yourself in this predicament so often. We don’t have all the answers, but here are a few things that could be the culprit in your great money conundrum.

1. Near-sighted Budgeting

Calculator and Money by 401(K) 2013, on Flickr
Calculator and Money” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by 401(K) 2013

Too often we find ourselves thinking about what we need to pay for tomorrow and not three weeks from now. Things like rent, utilities and car payments should take priority now instead of hitting you as a surprise later. Whatever you have left over is what you have to work with for the rest of the month, which should give you a clearer picture of what you can and cannot spend.

Pro Tip: Determine what your monthly expenses are and make sure you set that amount aside before spending it on anything else.

2. Wasting Food

dried apricots peaches prunes fresh appl by Berries.com, on Flickr
dried apricots peaches prunes fresh appl” (CC BY 2.0) by Berries.com

We often overlook the full potential of all the food we purchase. You will be surprised how far you can stretch a simple meal when you make the conscious effort to not throw any of it away.

Pro Tip: When you shop, start thinking about how many meals you can get out of each item you buy.

3. Relying on the Credit Card

Holding credit card by cafecredit, on Flickr
Holding credit card” (CC BY 2.0) by cafecredit

We all know the stress that comes from facing your credit card bill at the end of the month. Building your credit is great, but we know borrowing can become a crutch when things get tight. If you can’t afford something, it’s better to face that reality in the moment rather than later and with interest.

Pro Tip: Try to use cash for most of your purchases to avoid the consequences of excess spending later. Opening a Renasant checking account is a great place to start.

4. Missing Opportunities

Sale by helge thomas, on Flickr
Sale” (CC BY 2.0) by helge thomas

When it comes to finding a good deal, many times we don’t take advantage of the offers on the table. It may seem crazy, but the return on investment goes up when you strike while the deals are hot.

Pro Tip: Next time frozen pizzas are two for one at Walmart, buy six.

5. Eating Out Too Much

Cafe by jonas01123, on Flickr
Cafe” (CC BY 2.0) by jonas01123

This is the Achilles heel for most working Americans. Lunch with co-workers can be fun, but this kind of lifestyle adds up.

Pro Tip: Pack your lunch as frequently as possible, and you will be shocked to see how much money you will save in as little as a week.

6. Lack of Budgeting Altogether

Wallet by 401(K) 2013, on Flickr
Wallet” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by 401(K) 2013

When you lack a plan, you are sure to spend too much in a couple areas every time. You can afford to make this mistake a few times if you are on a budget, because then at least you will at least know to adjust for the following month. But without a plan in place, you are often throwing money away.

Pro Tip: Write out how much you can spend in each category ahead of time, and stick to it.

7. Expensive Taste

Numbers And Finance by kenteegardin, on Flickr
Numbers And Finance” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by kenteegardin

Many of us suffer from only wanting the best of everything. We all have our different splurges, and they definitely cost us. It may be time to adopt a less expensive diet and possibly even cancel a few streaming subscriptions.

Pro Tip: Identify two or three areas to cut back in. These small sacrifices, however painful, add up big time in the long run.

8. Lack of Saving

Savings by Images_of_Money, on Flickr
Savings” (CC BY 2.0) by Images_of_Money

When you don’t save there is nothing to fall back on for every flat tire or broken window kind of incident. Often times you can make ends meet, but at what cost?

Pro Tip: Start viewing savings as a necessary, regular expense, and next time you face the unexpected you won’t have to pay through the nose for it.

9. Not Taking Advantage of Everything “Free”

Monopoly Free Parking Ver2 by ccPixs.com, on Flickr
Monopoly Free Parking Ver2” (CC BY 2.0) by ccPixs.com

Contrary to popular belief, the world is full of free resources that can significantly lighten your everyday financial burden. It may cause us a bit more work or force us to swallow our pride, but the savings speak for themselves.

Pro Tip: Whether it be using your local library instead of buying books, or borrowing a friend’s tools for a project instead of buying your own, don’t put yourself above using what is right in front of you.

10. Panicking

AFraid of math by jimmiehomeschoolmom, on Flickr
AFraid of math” (CC BY 2.0) by jimmiehomeschoolmom

When it seems like everything is coming down to the wire it can be easy to freak out and make dumb financial decisions out of impulse.

Pro Tip: Take a deep breath, and try not to make rash decisions. You’ve got this.

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