What Are the Worst Financial Habits Most People Have?

Written By Jeff Hindenach
Last updated December 1, 2020

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Personal Finance
May 14, 2015

Simple. Thrifty. Living.

One of the best ways to improve your financial fitness is to cultivate good habits. With 60 percent of Americans experiencing some sort of financial shock in 2014 alone, it’s clear that people need more direction on how to handle their money so that emergency expenses, retirement savings, and other payments won’t be as worrisome. A good way to increase financial know-how is to know what not to do. Have a look at some of the worst financial mistakes people make.

Credit cards are a great way to earn cash back and other rewards, as long as that balance is paid in full each month. As of May 2015, the average credit card debt for American households is $15,609, which indicates that consumers are spending way more than they can afford. Instead of running up debt, use your credit card like you would cash: if you don’t have enough to buy something, wait to buy it or finance it in a responsible manner. Not carrying a credit card balance can save you thousands of dollars over time. Here are some tips on how to get rid of all that credit card debt.

When people buy homes, they often spend more than they actually should. That’s evident by the average mortgage debt across the country: $156,706. Being stuck with a long, costly mortgage can affect how much money you can put away for retirement. If the bank approves you to buy a home up to $250,000, consider staying in the $200,000 range. This will not only make payments each month seem easier, but will also allow you to use that extra money to invest or pay off other debt. Figure out how much house you can afford to buy.

Research has shown that 20 percent of people say spending too much money on things they don’t need is their worst financial habit. With every purchase you make, consider whether you actually need it. Do you really need to buy a new car, or will the old one do? Do you really need to buy the more expensive bottle of wine? Do you really need that shiny pair of shoes? Don’t let the moment tempt you. Instead, always think of your long-term financial goals first.

About the Author

Jeff Hindenach

Jeff Hindenach is the co-founder of Simple. Thrifty. Living. He graduated from Bowling Green State University with a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism. He has a long history of financial journalism, with a background writing for newspapers such as the San Jose Mercury News and San Francisco Examiner, as well as writing on personal finance for The Huffington Post, New York Times, Business Insider, CNBC, Newsday and The Street. He believes in giving readers the tools they need to get out of debt.

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