Financial Fitness Zone

3 ways you're sabotaging your financial freedom

Hitting big in Vegas, winning the lottery, inheriting a fortune and inventing the next billion-dollar idea can be paths to financial freedom. Unfortunately for most of us, our own path instead requires some smart decision-making, discipline, budgeting and real work. No matter the size of your paycheck, your financial moves can make a big impact on how you live. To avoid financial difficulties or help yourself rebound from prior mistakes, avoid these common errors that lead to financial hardship and stand in the way of making you rich.

1. Living on Borrowed Money

Using a credit card isn’t necessarily bad. But unless you are paying off that credit card bill every month, you are likely racking up interest on top of the initial charges. Even though some consumers are willing to pay double-digit interest rates for groceries, gasoline, clothing and other essentials that are used up before the bills are paid, it’s a good idea to avoid falling into that trap.

The monthly payments you make end up being a great deal more expensive than what you are purchasing. Similarly, borrowing against your investments or home equity can mean giving away your ownership and leave you paying more for your property than it’s worth. Depending on credit can encourage you to spend outside of your means and lead to future financial trouble. Mismanaging credit cards and student loans, for example, can hurt your chances of achieving bigger financial dreams like buying a home because of the long-term credit damage it can cause. You can see where your credit scores currently stand for free on Credit.com.

2. Overspending & Overbuying

Not spending more money than you make may seem like a basic concept, but it’s worth revisiting. As you continue to purchase more than your income can support month after month, you will end up in financial trouble. Waiting for that next raise or bonus can be dangerous — what if it never comes, or worse, a pink slip comes instead?

A way to avoid this is to track spending regularly and keep an updated budget. This is important for small, everyday purchases as well as large ones, like when deciding how much house you can afford or what car to buy.

3. Not Saving Enough

Working up to a healthy bank account balance can seem overwhelming. It’s a good idea to get into the savings habit as early as possible. Whether you start small or have been putting away money forever, the idea is to treat the savings as if it were another bill. Set aside some money from each paycheck to meet your savings goals.

In addition to an emergency fund, which can prevent minor hiccups from becoming huge financial roadblocks, there is also retirement. It’s a good idea to learn how much money you need to save to retire. This can give you a goal and help determine how much money you should be saving per paycheck.

Becoming financially free may not occur overnight, but by looking out for certain blunders, you can adjust your habits and give yourself the best opportunity. Evaluating your fiscal behavior and living within your means while saving can help get you there.

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