7 Ways to Commit Financial Suicide

Photo (cc) by Salim Virji

This post originally appeared on LenPenzo.com.

I recently got back from a vacation that included a family wedding on the Central California coast and a sightseeing trip around the San Francisco Bay area.

Of course, one of the most popular attractions in San Francisco is the beautiful Golden Gate Bridge. It’s absolutely breathtaking to behold in all its majesty.

Ironically, the gorgeous span is also an extremely popular suicide location; more than 1,300 people have jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge since it was completed in 1937.

While most people would never consider committing harakiri by any means, more than a few folks unwittingly choose to commit financial suicide every day.

How so? Here are seven of the most popular methods:

1. Having children too early

There is nothing more destructive to one’s financial future than bringing children into the world without having an established and stable means to support them. Raising children requires a tremendous investment, not only of money, but time as well. Unfortunately, when those resources are in short supply, it becomes extremely difficult to start a business, or gain the necessary experience, on-the-job training, and/or education required for the type of career advancement opportunities that lead to significantly increased earning power.

2. Abusing credit cards

There are thousands upon thousands of careless people who have been driven to financial ruin after burying themselves under a mountain of credit card debt. In most cases, it’s because they fail to understand that credit cards are a double-edged sword that must be treated with respect and used responsibly.

3. Maintaining financial dependency on others

We are constantly being admonished by officials to avoid feeding bears, squirrels, and other wildlife in order to prevent them from eventually becoming dependent on handouts. For the same reason, I’m convinced that the longer we stay dependent on government assistance or friends and family for financial support, the tougher it becomes for us humans to achieve financial independence.

4. Failing to accurately track income and expenses

Trying to get a handle on your personal finances without knowing how much money you are earning and where it is all going is tantamount to trying to drive while blindfolded. People who fail to take the time to analyze their finances typically end up crashing and burning because they lack a means of ensuring they get the most from their income. As a result, they end up succumbing to a severe case of lifestyle inflation.

5. Setting down roots in the wrong location

Whether you realize it or not, one of the most deceptively critical financial decisions you’ll ever make is where to live. True, sometimes we have little choice in the matter. However, it’s important to keep in mind that choosing to live in a high cost-of-living locale without the income to support such a lifestyle makes it extremely difficult to not only make ends meet, but also accumulate wealth over the long haul.

6. Failing to establish a plan for the future

The young always seem to have more time than money, which is why financially important things like putting aside money for short- and longer-term emergencies – or feathering a retirement nest egg – are often never even considered until people approach their golden years. Of course, by then, it’s usually much too late. The old bromide really is true: Failing to plan is the same thing as planning to fail.

7. Marrying the wrong person

Marriage is another epic decision with major implications. Remember: Marriage is a financial contract. As such, it’s always a financially dangerous proposition – there are countless responsible people who ended up bankrupt due to the antics of a financially undisciplined spouse to prove it. As for those who eventually recognize their matrimonial mistake after saying “I do,” they still end up paying dearly. The average cost of a divorce is approximately $20,000, which just goes to show that the only people who prosper from a divorce are usually the lawyers.

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