Your 20s are a great time to establish healthy financial habits that can work for you for the rest of your life. Think habits like sticking to a budget, spending less than you earn, and saving for retirement. It is important to work now to create habits that will benefit you in the future.
But there are also some bad financial habits that you should work to avoid. Even the small things may end up costing you a lot more in the future. Here are five habits that can wreck your budget – and how to avoid them.
Never Paying Off Your Credit Card
If you are only paying the minimum payment on your credit card, you are primarily paying the interest. This means that you will likely never pay off the debt and will continue to pay interest for months and years to come.
Find out how much this habit is costing you is to look at your credit card bill. Each monthly statement has a box that tells you how much you paid in interest this month, how long it will take you to pay off the card by paying the minimum, plus and the amount that you need to pay to pay it off in X number of years.
After a closer look at your credit card bill, you will see that if you are only paying the minimum amount you will not make any real progress on your debt.
When you are single, it may not seem like that big of a deal to eat out a couple of nights a week. You may even think that it can be almost as inexpensive as cooking at home, though his depends on where you eat out and what you cook at home.
But eating out becomes a habit that can be harder to break once you are married and have kids. Let's say the average family of four spends around $40 eating a meal out, while a comparable meal can be made at home for less than $10. That is a huge savings. Menu planning and make-ahead meals can help you resist the urge to eat out.
Smoking can be expensive in a lot of different ways. First, there is the cost of the cigarettes. The average cost is around $6.28 a pack. If you smoke 2 packs a week, that's more than $650/year.
However, the added costs may come later in life as you deal with serious health issues from the side effects of smoking. Remember, medical bills can be very expensive.
Gambling is a habit that can negatively impact your finances over time.
The costs can add up quickly, because it really can be difficult to stop. If you do an occasional bet on a big game or plan an annual trip to Vegas, chances are you do not have a gambling problem.
However, if you find yourself constantly gambling or playing online poker and losing, you may need to seek help for your addiction. If you are facing a gambling addiction then you may be in danger of losing your home, your family and your job.
Lottery tickets also count as gambling. Kicking your scratch off habit, can save you money, as well.
Impulse Shopping and Deal Hunting
Impulse shopping can add up quickly and it can be difficult to calculate just how much you spend on it each year because the purchases are usually mixed in with other items that are necessities.
Another problem area may be hunting for the perfect deal, and then finding another deal that is just too good to pass up—even if you did not really need the item in the first place. These "deals" can end up costing you a lot of money on things that you do not really need.
Break this habit by forcing yourself to wait 24 hours before you make a purchase. And if you think you have a real shopping addiction, you may need to seek help for your shopping issues.
Updated by Rachel Morgan Cautero.