Over the course of the past 8 years, I’ve made a considerable effort to change my finances. From digging out of credit card debt to finally kicking my bum into gear about saving, I’ve essentially done a 180 from the credit card-crazed overspender I used to be.
While it wasn’t easy and there were definitely times I had setbacks and/or wanted to quit moving forward, I can’t stress enough how much the hard work has been completely worth it.
Here are some of the bad financial habits I’ve kicked to the curb in an effort to gain financial independence:
Having debt other than student loans and mortgages.
For years, I carried thousands of dollars of debt around without any serious plan to pay it off. Thankfully, I always paid the minimum on my cards so my credit score remained unscathed, but I never really realized the impact my debt was having on my future. Once I had a handle on how important it is to be financially secure, the debt melted away. I’m continuously working hard to keep it that way.
Not investing in my future.
I was always making excuses for why I couldn’t fund a savings account or Roth IRA. Some of my common rebuttals (against myself…ugh) were, “I don’t make enough,” “I’ll save once I get this credit card paid off,” and “I. just. don’t. want. to.” Thank you, financial epiphany for slapping my eyes open for me! Now I make sure to max out my Roth and contribute regularly to my 403b and long-term savings accounts.
I was a huge fan of the retail therapy concept. Had a bad day? Head to the mall! See a cute outfit in a magazine? Mindlessly charge it! It took years to break this habit and I still struggle sometimes. But now I’ve seen the greener grass on the other side of the pasture and I’ll do anything to not go back!
Not opening my mail.
I didn’t get the Princess of Interest moniker for nothing–I literally stuck my head in the sand for far too long and ignored of the piles of credit card statements and bills I was receiving. I also used to just throw things in the trash unopened, which could have put me in quite the identity theft-ridden pickle. Now I make sure to sort, attend to, and shred my mail a few times each week so that I’m not faced with pile overload.
Not asking for a raise when I deserve one.
For me, this was about learning my own worth. I had to stop being other people’s doormat and start commanding an adequate price for my skills, talents, and expertise. I’m finally comfortable negotiating salaries and benefits, and I used this strength to negotiate my most recent raise.
Having no clue what a budget is.
I also used to think of budget as a four-letter word that was poison in my mouth. I spent recklessly, aimlessly, and foolishly–all while having no clue what money was coming in when. While my system now may seem like overload to some, I keep myself on a “short leash” when it comes to my budget so I can keep moving forward with my goals. Tracking every penny going out and assigning every penny coming in works for me but it may not work for others. The key here is identifying whatever system works for you and actually using it.
Shirking a frugal lifestyle.
Believe or not, I used to think being frugal was stupid (I can’t believe I just typed that). I used to live a lavish lifestyle but I was hiding that I couldn’t really afford it! Now I seek out discounts, use coupons, frequent clearance bins, and pride myself on getting a great deal.
Only focusing on myself.
In my credit card debt days of disbelief, I was quite selfish with my money. Now, I focus my efforts on my goals as well as doing things for others. Some of my bigger accomplishments in this realm have been my annual Operation Giving Back and my birthdays where I’ve done Random Acts of Kindness for each year I’ve been alive on my birthday (ie. 30 on my 30th, etc.).
What are some bad financial habits that you’ve kicked to the curb??