There are many things that ruin your savings. And if you never seem to have money in the bank, taking a look at your money habits can provide clues as to why you're stuck in the same spot financially. But of course, recognizing our own bad money habits isn't easy. We may justify our decisions, or think some decisions aren't a big deal. If you're looking to increase your savings, here are seven things that ruin your savings.
1. Window Shopping
There's nothing wrong with a little window shopping, but this might be one of several things that ruin your savings – if you have a spending problem. Recognize your limitations. While others can go to the mall and window shop without spending a dime, this might be impossible for you. Therefore, each trip to the mall tempts you to pull out a credit card or spend money you don't have. Your window shopping trip turns into a real shopping trip. In the end, you're unable to save or you're dipping into your savings to pay bills.
2. Forgetting to Pack a Lunch
I know, you're busy in the mornings. Who isn't? But if you never pack a lunch and you're eating take-out every day, the cost adds up. And unfortunately, if you're trying to save money, this bad habit slows your efforts and depletes your disposable income. Going forward, bring your lunch most days of the week. Pack it the night before if you're always rushing in the mornings.
3. Grabbing Coffee
If you can't resist an expensive tall or large latte at your favorite coffeehouse, this might explain a low savings account. Gourmet coffee isn't cheap – some people pay as much as $5-$7 per coffeehouse trip. So, if you go every day of the week, that's up to $35 a week on coffee alone. This bad habit - on top of dining out for lunch -- results in unnecessarily spending money during the week. You'll do better brewing your own coffee, and putting the savings into a bank account.
4. Paying Bills Late
If you have a bad habit of paying bills late, you're probably paying a mountain of late fees every month. Credit card late fees can be as high as $45 per occurrence, and if you're late with your mortgage, the lender might charge as much as a $50 or a $60 late fee. Do yourself a favor and pay bills on time. You can set up email alerts, online bill pay, or pay statements as soon as they arrive. If you're going to be late, notify your creditor in advance. This way, you avoid a late fee and possible interest rate hikes.
5. Overspending on a House or Car
You work hard, and you probably feel you deserve the best. This might include the house or car you want. But unfortunately, overspending on either can ruin your savings. If the majority of your income goes toward a house or car payment, there might be nothing left for building an emergency cushion or saving for retirement. It's okay to have nice things, as long as it's in budget. Ideally, your house payment should not exceed 28% of your gross income. And your total transportation costs, including auto insurance and fuel should be around 25%.
6. Keeping up with the Joneses
We may have a friend who can go shopping and take nice vacations, and we want to keep up with her lifestyle. But if you're running around keeping up with the Joneses, rather than saving money, you'll be spending unnecessarily, and you won't have a savings account. Stop living for others and think about your financial future.
7. Not Budgeting
Everyone hates the B word, but a budget keeps your money on track. You can plan for a variety of expenses, plus you can even include saving in your budget. You're less likely to overspend during the month, so you'll have more disposable income, which is what you need to grow your savings account.
Rather than let bad habits and a non-frugal mindset ruin your savings, aim to make better choices about your money. What are other things that can ruin your savings?