Many people believe that wealth is an outcome of how much you earn but finance is a marathon not a sprint. If you have good financial habits and put away a portion of your earnings for the future, you are on a great trajectory towards financial freedom even if you don't earn a huge amount. Conversely if you earn a million dollars per year but spend more than you earn, you are on a bad trajectory and your future is bleak. To keep yourself on the path to a fabulous future, nix these money-sucking habits quick.
Spending more than you earn. It sounds obvious but many of us are guilty of this, in fact 1 in 5 according to a survey a National Financial Capability Survey. Doing slightly better are the 38% of people who break even but you should aim to be among the 40% who spend less than they earn. It sounds simple but lifestyle creep means that many of us are living beyond our means without even noticing. If you aren’t contributing to your savings and retirement plans then that’s you and it’s time to make some changes.
Refusing to face your finances. Your Brain accounts for 2-3% of your body weight but accounts for 20% of your metabolic and caloric expenditure (you are thinking yourself thin right now!). It’s a ruthlessly inefficient system, so our brains are always looking for ways to power down and think less. This is especially true when you try to make a decision that is complicated or emotionally laden and financial decisions are both of these things. You must resist! Make a habit of rewarding yourself while going through your finances. I like to slip myself a piece of dark chocolate every time I make myself do something I don’t like. It starts an association that eventually means I don’t dread the task when I see it on my calendar.
Not Automating Savings. Have you ever signed up for a gym, visited once for a stroll on the treadmill, another time to shower as the water was cut off at your apartment and then continued to pay for months without setting foot inside. This is the power of a direct deposit! Imagine how much faster you would have cancelled if paying your membership fees had involved writing a check and mailing it in each month. I want you to harness the power of this “set it and forget it” mentality for your own savings. Set up a direct deposit to yourself each month on payday and forget to cancel it, ideally for the rest of your life. By contributing to your savings manually you are making it much harder and therefore less appealing.
Thinking Earning More is the Solution. Yes, you should go ask for that pay rise, however if you want to increase your savings then a more efficient strategy is actually to save more not earn more. This is because for every additional dollar you earn, the IRS will only let you keep some of it. Every dollar you save is all yours. In addition to this the evidence seems to show that very few of us put additional earnings into savings anyway. What most of us do is increase our spending directly inline with an increase in income. Whoops.
Not Matching Your Spending to Your Values. If you want to feel richer without spending more you need to make every dollar of discretionary income count. Look at your naughtiest sending habits and decide which ones of those in the words of Marie Kondo “spark joy”. Do take out dinners do it for you? A fancy car? Travel? By zoning in on the luxuries that genuinely promote happiness for you and nixing the ones that are simply convenient or seemed like a good idea at the time, you can create a feeling of wealth on a much tighter budget.
Being Disorganized. My Achilles heel! Disorganization and wasting money go hand in hand: late payments, rotting food in the fridge, buying coffee because you woke up late, shopping without a list, failing to create a budget. It is easy to tell yourself that you don’t have time to get organized but the cost of doing so is high. Make a commitment this weekend to spend some time getting organized for the week ahead. And again, give yourself a little treat for doing it.