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5 stupid financial mistakes people make

By Todd Pheifer, Contributing writer
Published On: Jul 27 2013 05:59:25 PM CDT
Broken piggy bank, bills, money, debt

ŠiStockphoto.com/(ericsphotography)

Financial management isn't supposed to be hard, but plenty of individuals struggle with money issues every single day.

People are supposed to make money and not spend it too quickly or on the wrong things. Most forms of debt should be avoided and saving for the future should be a regular and highly disciplined habit.

Unfortunately, there is a large gap between what people should do and what they actually do with their money. Today people are more mired in debt than ever before, and for many individuals the prospect of purchasing large items or retiring someday is simply not going to happen unless there is a drastic change in habits.

Why are people in such bad shape? Here are five stupid financial mistakes that people make in today's society ...

Debt calculator with bills

No. 5: Failing to stick to a budget

Budgeting is a hassle and it tends to restrict people's ability to make personal choice. Of course, that is the point, even if it is somewhat inconvenient at times.

Plenty of individuals struggle with the budgeting process because they are unwilling to discipline themselves and follow a monthly plan. Setting up a budget isn't necessarily difficult, but following it can be a major task for some people because it means that they may have to stop spending money on their favorite things until next month.

Budgeting is necessary because some people make the mistake of trusting themselves to be responsible with their spending. Sometimes people need to remove obstacles in order to be financially sound, and sometimes the biggest obstacle is their own bad behavior.

Now how much money did get spent last month? And where are those bills?

paychecks with pen

No. 4: Paying bills late or not paying at all

If people pay attention in life, they will notice that certain bills arrive every month. It is almost as if those companies want them to get paid on a regular basis. Imagine that.

The mistake some people make on a regular basis revolves around disorganization. Even though some people receive a bill on the same day every month, they forget to pay it.

In some cases this is a major deal because failure to pay incurs late fees, interest payments, and even downgrades to credit scores.

To compound the problem, many people do not balance their checkbook, keep receipts, or notice when they have exceeded financial limits. Do people make mistakes sometimes? Yes. Could some people pay better attention to the details of life? Absolutely.

Granted, things will be just fine once that special financial project materializes ...

Money

No. 3: Waiting for a big windfall

Some people get into financial trouble because they hold out hope that some great event that will occur to bail them out of their predicament.

This is why people play the lottery or invest in "get rich quick" schemes. It is also why people listen to stock tips from the uncle ... who has a friend ... who knows a guy ... who is the father of a man ... who used to be a janitor at a firm that is about to be a billion-dollar organization.

Opportunities do come up and sometimes people make it big in a short period of time. However, most people still make money by working hard, saving, and living within their means.

For those who do not have that kind of patience, there is always the wonderful world of credit and all the joy that it can bring ...

credit cards file photo

No. 2: Overusing your credit cards

It starts out so innocently. People charge a little gasoline here and a few groceries there. Before long they charge movie tickets, home improvement items, clothes, restaurant meals, and weekend trips to "the card."

There are people who genuinely convince themselves that charging something to a credit card means that they don't have to eventually pay for it. Unfortunately, that bill comes every month and soon people are paying the minimum balance on a card that has a sizeable balance and a daunting annual percentage rate.

The credit card is convenient, but it can get people into serious financial trouble if they are not careful.

Of course, it could be worse. People could have no sense of what they are going to do in the future ...

Empty pockets

No. 1: Not planning for the future

If people are asked about their future, they can usually paint a fairly happy picture.

They will be retired, their bills will be paid off, and they will roam the world while living off their perfectly adequate nest egg.

The reality is that many individuals have no plan for the future. They may have desires, but their current habits will never get them to their desired state of living in the future.

Does a financial plan guarantee success? Of course not. However, the mistake that many people make is not having any sort of long-term financial strategy and hoping that things will simply work out somehow.

Thinking that way may reflect the positive outlook of the individual, but it may also mean that they will someday experience disappointment at their lack of serious financial planning.