Mid-year resolutions, anyone? In order to get into the mood of summer fun and relaxation, you need to be conscientious with the financial side of your life. Nothing makes a sunny day feel cloudier or a vacation more stressful than money worries. Sit back, pick up an icy glass of lemonade, and give yourself the gift of peace of mind by breaking these seven bad habits today:
1. Not looking at bills
Even if you ignore them, they aren't going to go away. (Wouldn't it be nice if they did?) Go through your mail and email when it arrives, and sort it into labeled folders. Setting up automatic bill payments through your TDECU account is one way to take care of this bad habit once and for all.
2. Not setting aside an emergency fund
Something is going to happen that needs a quick infusion of cash; even if you're the most cautious person in the world, you may have a pet that suddenly needs surgery. You might lose a filling or lose a job; unexpected life events catch up with all of us now and then, and it's important to give yourself a security net. Experts recommend having at least three months' worth of living expenses set aside.
3. Paying only the minimum on your credit cards
Credit cards are a fantastic tool, but they can be a trap as well if you let yourself be lulled by the tiny minimum payments. Those tiny payments mean you will be in an endless cycle of debt, and you won't have the card there for a true emergency. Don't make any optional purchases on your cards that you can't pay off in full each month.
4. Living beyond your means
The first step, of course, is to decide exactly what your "means" consist of. Create a budget and stick to it, so that you're not tempted by advertisers to believe in a vague way that you can afford something just because it's on sale. If you don't need the item, no sale is good enough.
5. Not paying into your 401K plan
If your employer matches your contributions, this one is a no-brainer. Have a monthly contribution toward your retirement just taken out of your paycheck before you even see it, so that it doesn't feel as painful. It's likely that as medical care improves more of us will be living into older years, and you want to look forward to a reasonable retirement.
6. Telling yourself unhelpful stories
This means you don't announce that the only way to cure your blues is "retail therapy," or that you're no good at handling money. It's way too easy to convince our inner selves of something by repeating it, and the last thing you want is to teach yourself something negative.
7. Not budgeting for luxuries
We all need occasional treats, even if they're as small as a bouquet of flowers or a night out at the movies. If you don't allow yourself a budget category for a few personal luxuries you'll probably buy them anyway -- but then you'll feel guilty and the unplanned expense will cause you to fret over bills. Which puts you back at step 1!
Breaking yourself of these seven bad money habits will put you on a solid pathway to prosperity and peace of mind
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