Do you make a lot of mistakes when it comes to managing your finances? Here are some of the more foolish things we often do — or don’t do:
1. Not having a budget
You can’t begin to manage your finances until you know what’s coming in the door, and what’s going out. You need a money management tool! This is where an app like Mint comes in handy: you can track your finances, budget, set goals and more. And when you sync your various accounts — savings, checking, investment — you’ve got everything in one place. That makes it easier to stay organized, do more with your money, and ultimately keep those mistakes to a minimum.
2. Failing to maximize tax breaks
Every year, Americans make all sorts of mistakes on their taxes, costing them hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars. And while basic arithmetic errors perpetually top the list, we also overlook valuable money-saving credit and deductions such as the earned income tax credit, job-hunting costs, out of pocket charitable contributions, and the child-care credit. Don’t leave any “free” money on the table.
3. Thinking small changes don’t make big differences
Consider this: if you buy a cup of coffee every day at $1.75 a cup, you’re spending more than $600 a year to fuel your habit; make your coffee at home for just 55 cents and you’ll save more than $400. And here’s a less conventional, more significant example: If you were to buy a $300,000 home and put 20% as a down payment, a mortgage rate difference of 1 % (4.5% instead of 5.5%), would save you $147 a month — the equivalent of about 40 grand lattes every month. Annually, this tiny 1% difference in your mortgage rate would save you $2,398 in the first year of your loan. That’s the equivalent of a weeklong vacation for a family of four! Have I made my case? Explore your options!
4. Forgetting to redeem rewards
Americans earn approximately $48 billion in rewards points and airline miles each year through customer loyalty programs, yet about one-third of that amount — or $16 billion — goes unredeemed each year! To put this in further prospective, the average household that’s active in loyalty programs earns about $622 per year, but does not redeem $205 of those rewards. That’s enough to buy an airline ticket, a smartphone, or a couple weeks’ worth of groceries!