Even the best-laid plans can go awry. Sometimes you have to step back and make sure that you are still on your way to meeting your financial goals and not actually working against them. Here are some ways you may be sabotaging your financial future without even knowing it.
Waiting Until Later
This first one is a common trap — even for the smartest and savviest among us. You are just starting out in your career and figure you will make more money later. You are juggling young kids and assume life will get less expensive later on. You have kids in college and think it will all get easier once they graduate and on their own. But the danger is if you are always waiting for some time in the future to start saving for your retirement, before you know it you are hitting retirement age without a nest egg.
It’s never too early to start saving for retirement. The earlier you begin putting money in, the better. This way you are giving your money more time to grow and you are setting also getting yourself in the saving mindset. Even if you can’t max out your 401(k) or individual retirement accounts right away, by putting retirement into your budget you are making it a priority. Then you can set a timeline for increasing your contributions. Sometimes a small increase every six months to a year can lead to meeting your goal quickly without too much sacrifice.
Having an Unrealistic Budget
In an effort to take control of your finances, it can be tempting to cut everything down to the bare bones. But not allowing yourself any funds for fun can lead to a large splurge, often one you can’t afford, along with general unhappiness.
While you may be able to maintain a super-strict budget for a limited time (and this can help reach shorter term goals like eliminating a specific debt), in the long run your budget should work for your life, and it should be a life that you are happy with.
When making a budget, the key is finding the balance that works for you. (Of course, if you are significantly in debt you may not have a choice.) This is why it’s a good idea to re-evaluate your budget every so often (like every few months).
Assuming Buying Is Best
There can be some social pressure to buy a home. Whether it’s from your parents, friends or co-workers, at some point, others may think it’s time for you to own your own place. Popular times for this pressure to ramp up are when you get married, have a baby or turn 30.
And for some of us, it’s before we are ready. But before you feel bad about it, consider this: Buying isn’t always wise. Depending on your personal situation, renting may be a better idea.
Buying a home just because of the social pressure can lead to financial troubles. Before you jump into homeownership, run the numbers to see whether you should be renting or buying. A big factor in how much you’ll pay for the home over the life of the loan is the interest rate, which depends on your credit scores. You can check two of your credit scores for free on Credit.com.
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