Does your debt make you feel like a huge rain cloud is following you around? Does it feel like your debt is holding you back? You’re not alone! According to The Pew Charitable Trusts, 80% of Americans carry some form of debt.
If you feel like you have tried everything to get a handle on your debt, there may be some financial habits that continue to keep you in the cycle of debt.
Here are just a few habits that could be keeping you in debt:
Not paying attention to your debt totals
Do you know exactly what your interest rates are and the total amount of debt you owe? A lot of people are afraid to look at this information for fear of the total amount. By bringing awareness to your debt load, you can fully tackle your debt once and for all.
Remedy: Don’t fear your debt; address it. Find every credit card statement, loan statement, or mortgage statement you have. If you cannot find the interest rates, call the company directly. Make a list of all your debts including the amount you owe and the interest rate on each amount. Then create a debt repayment plan for tackling your debt.
Only making minimum payments
If you are only making the minimum on your credit cards, it could end up costing you a lot of money in interest. Even if you could pay an extra $50 a month toward your payments, it could make a significant impact on your debt repayment.
Remedy: Put at least a portion of your tax refund, birthday money, side-hustle cash, or bonus money toward paying your debt. You don’t have to use the entire amount to pay down your debt, but at least use a portion to speed up the debt repayment process.
Shopping to fill the time
Ever have a few minutes of downtime and decide to shop online? Shopping just to fill your time can be very costly. If it is not an item you truly need, then you may be wasting a lot of money due to boredom.
Remedy: Go for a walk and get some fresh air. Even if the weather is less than ideal, the fresh air can give you a jolt of energy. Getting a little bit of exercise is a much better way to spend your time. Maybe you could even start couponing to fill the time.
Going to the grocery without a list
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 2012 statistics show that Americans threw away between 31% and 40% of food after it is harvested. Wandering around the grocery store without a plan could contribute to this high percentage.
Remedy: Sit down and create a grocery list. Decide on the meals you will make for the week. Also, take an inventory of all of your food in your pantry and refrigerator. You don’t want to purchase duplicate items that will go to waste. By making a plan you can spend less at the grocery. You may even save some time.
Not reviewing bills and receipts
Trusting merchants and service providers too much can keep you in debt. You never know when a bill or receipt will have an error. You could be giving money away and not even know it.
Remedy: Review, review, review! If you are serious about getting out of debt, review every bill and receipt that comes your way. If you do spot an error, make sure to call your service provider or merchant. If they are unwilling to help, reach out to your credit card company to challenge the charge.
“Just this once” mentality
Do you ever go into a store and think, “I love this item, I won’t buy anything else for the rest of the month”? This can be a toxic behavior because the majority of the time, you do purchase another item within the same month. Before you know it, you look at your credit card statement in shock. Little purchases can add up!
Remedy: Think about your purchase for at least 24-48 hours. If you walk away and have time to evaluate buying an item, you may make a more financially responsible decision. Giving yourself a little time can help prevent impulse buys.
Always saying “yes”
Going to dinner, grabbing drinks, attending fundraisers all add up. It’s hard to turn down an event. But, each one of these events can be very costly. Get comfortable saying “no” if you don’t feel as though an event will fit in your budget.
Remedy: At the beginning of the month set aside a dollar amount you will spend on social events. Select your events based on your designated budget amount. It is okay to say “no” to events that don’t fit into your budget.
Lending your friends and family money
Friends, family, and money can get complicated pretty quickly. If you lend your friends or family money, you have to assume it’s a gift. No matter how much you trust them, they could forget or be unable to pay you back. This can be costly to your financial health.
Remedy: If you don’t feel comfortable asking for your money back, don’t lend your money. You don’t want to ruin relationships over money. It is best to not get it involved at all. If you do lend your family or friends money, think of it as a gift. Make sure you accounted for this addition expense in your budget before giving them money.
There are other ways you can help them financially besides lending them money. Maybe you could share some financial tools and resources you use that could be helpful.
Ultimately, there are countless habits that could be continuing your cycle of debt. It is important to notice these habits and make the appropriate adjustments. Creating positive financial habits can help you achieve your financial goals and objectives. So, take a look at your life and see what habits you need to change.
Taking small steps in the right direction will help you feel more financially secure. Don’t wait. Start changing your habits today!