We all have good intentions for our money, but life happens and things sometimes take a turn for the worse.
If you’re among the people who abide by a strict budget and have a hefty cushion intact to cover emergencies, kudos to you. If not, you’re likely among the 62 percent of Americans whose finances would crumble if an unexpected expense arose, according to a survey by Bankrate. A bulk of the subjects surveyed had a spending plan, but were living paycheck to paycheck and hadn’t set aside money for an emergency fund.
Perhaps you struggle with the same issue, or find it difficult to maintain the fund as the money departs as quickly as it’s deposited.
Either way, here are some money mistakes that may be wreaking havoc on your savings account:
1. Failing to plan your meals for the week
You spend no more than a few minutes coming up with nutritious meal ideas for your family and race through the grocery aisles filing up the shopping cart without giving the prices much thought.
Following a healthy diet is paramount, but it can wreak havoc on your spending plan if you don’t abide by the golden rules of grocery shopping.
2. Bad beverage habits
If you’re always on the go, preparing your own coffee can be a hassle. Plus, you prefer the taste of Starbucks to give you the spark you need for the day. If your budget is failing you miserably each month and your savings account is picking up the slack, it’s time you tread lightly with the coffee shop visits.
Just one tasty beverage at $4 a day, five days a week, amounts to a whopping $80 per month. And that doesn’t even factor in the sweet treats awaiting you in the display case.
3. Not anticipating deductibles
You desperately need good health and auto insurance, but you can’t afford the high payments. So you opt for a higher deductible. That’s often recommended as a way to lower insurance premiums.
However, it’s potentially hazardous. It could wipe out your savings account in the event you haven’t stashed away enough money to cover the deductible plus meet other emergencies that could arise.
I learned this lesson when I had a surgical procedure. A few minutes after showing up for the pre-op appointment, I was notified I’d need to cough up $1,000 before treatment. Reasoning: I hadn’t met the $500 deductible, and only 80 percent of the costs associated with the procedure were covered by my plan. Fortunately, we had a fund for medical bills so I could make the payment, but I hadn’t anticipated that I’d have to pay out-of-pocket before the procedure.
4. Ignoring your spending plan
Do you pay your bills immediately after funds are deposited into your bank account and then spend the rest, rather than sticking to your budget? If so, how do you ever expect to build your cushion?
Or what happens when a financial emergency arises, and you’re forced to dip into the small emergency fund you do have? Will you be able to replenish it in the coming months?
My suggestion: Make cuts to variable expenses and allocate freed-up funds to your savings account. Here’s how.
5. Tossing bank statements as soon as you receive them
It’s amazing how powerful bank and credit card statements can be. At least they are for me, because statements serve as a reality check when I haven’t been playing by the money rules set forth in our household. (On a few occasions, checking bank statements has also saved me from identity thieves because I detected small charges I hadn’t made).
Thinking you know what you’ve spent and actually knowing are two different things. If you’re in the latter group, the chances of you living within your means and not emptying your savings account are greater.
I’m not suggesting you deprive yourself of life’s pleasures, but it’s up to you to take care of your money. Otherwise, it won’t take care of you in the times you need it most.
What changes have you made to turn a new leaf and boost your savings account? Let us know in the comments below or on our Facebook page.
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