There’s no denying that money is an important part of our lives. In fact, it’s integral to running our lives like a well-oiled machine. We use it to buy what we need for living, to care for and support our family and loved ones, and to finance our future. Unfortunately, there are a number of bad habits that can sabotage our financial well-being and put a monkey wrench in our best-laid plans. To help us grow and support wealth-building strategies and habits, we must be aware of and accountable for our actions and decisions that are detrimental to creating and preserving wealth.
Some of these habits are quietly insidious and won’t destroy our finances in the short term, but over time, our decisions and actions may capsize our long-term goals and plans for our lives. Rather than experience a sudden downfall due to negative spending behavior, here are several undesirable habits you can curtail before they sabotage your financial well-being.
Talk about bad for your finances and your health. Smoking does a bang-up job on your pocket as well as many aspects of your health. According to the Centers for Diseases Control, “Tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of death and disease in the United States.” A pack of cigarettes costs $4.49 — although the price widely varies from state to state — and a two-pack a day habit costs $8.98 per day for each of the 365 days of the year, for a sobering cost of approximately $273.14 a month.
That’s a significant amount of money — especially when you calculate using that figure for investment. For example, if you invest that amount every month for 10 years with an 8% annual return on your investment, that’s a whopping $51,280.92 return. That’s serious money toward a down payment on a home or toward that stunted retirement plan you’ve been meaning to fund.
Another way smoking can hurt your wallet is with life insurance. Life insurance for a smoker can potentially cost more than three times a policy for a non-smoker. But more important, it’s the cost of medical procedures and the lost opportunities, productivity, and income due to health complications such as heart disease, angina, emphysema, chronic pain, and certain types of cancer. For tips on how to quit smoking, visit the CDC website.
Using credit cards irresponsibly
How many credit cards do you have in your wallet right now? Two? Five? Eight? While it’s not necessarily a bad idea to have credit cards, it is a horrible thing to use them recklessly. Unfortunately, irresponsible spending is all too easy. Yes, you can earn fantastic, money-saving rewards by using credit cards on a regular basis. But remember, if credit card companies weren’t making money by giving away some money, they wouldn’t do it. That means the decks are stacked against the average shopper in credit card usage.
You will pay more in interest on your credit cards than you would make through the rewards programs. Smart, savvy financial thinking requires that you pay off your credit cards every single month. So before you use that credit card, make sure that you will be able to afford the bills that come every month. Realistically, for many people, the only way to do that is to get on a budget and make sure that you have the money before you spend it. For advice on smart credit card use, visit Experian.
Eating out during work lunch breaks
It’s all too easy to head down the street, swipe your card, and grab a deli-made meal, that irresistible Starbucks Frappuccino, or some other small, miscellaneous purchase. Add them all up and those weekly expenses can end up costing you a lot of money. For instance, if you spend $7.50 a meal four days a week. That may total about $120 a month or $1,440 a year. That’s a lot of money, honey. Although eating out on your lunch breaks alone probably won’t kill your finances, when you add that extra muffin at your favorite java joint, that bagel for later, and those candy bars after work, now your snacking is morphing into a bad habit that will inevitably kill your finances and pack on the pounds.
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