Around this time every year, I figure out what I’m going to give up for Lent. Food is a popular choice in my family: soda, ice cream, and my perennial choices—bagels or pretzels. But it’s also a good time to say goodbye to bad financial habits and choose destructive money behaviors instead to give up for Lent.
Here are four that I’m occasionally guilty of. If you want to improve your finances in the next 40 days, pick one—or all—to give up for Lent.
Not checking statements
Do your bank and other financial statements come in the mail and sit around collecting dust unopened on your desk or the kitchen counter? Or, if you’ve gone paperless, are you ignoring the email notifications that tell you when your new statement is ready?
How can you ever assess how well you’re doing financially if you have no idea how you’re actually doing. And just as important, how can you make sure that you’re not losing money because of mistakes or, worse, fraud.
You should be checking statements for all your financial accounts monthly at the very least. But most experts suggest logging into your credit and debits accounts (or viewing them on their apps) once or twice a week.
Spending lots on little things
For some people, it’s their daily caffeine fix that’s unexpectedly bloating their budget. For me, it tends to be drugstores, dollar stores, and Target. You know how it goes: you walk in for one or two things, and two hours later you have a basket—or worse, cart—full of stuff you don’t actually need.
You may only be spending $20 here or there, but it still adds up. And buying things for the wrong reasons is a sure path to overspending.
Wasting money on “deals”
Do you love a good deal like I do? Do you buy things from flash sales and other sites only to forget, or get too busy, and before you know it the voucher has expired?
Maybe it’s that massage you bought for the spa you never made it to because it’s inconveniently located across town. Or the dance classes that didn’t work with your work schedule. Or the Haunted House deal you bought two Halloweens ago, that’s still sitting unused in your inbox and is completely useless now.
It’s easy to get caught up in the urgency of limited time deals and the thrill of 50% off or more. And it’s especially easy not to notice how much real money you’re spending when all you have to do to buy one is press a button on an app. But stop throwing your money away on things you’re not likely to use.