Everyone likes to think they’re handling their money well. But how do you actually know if you’re good with your money? Even if you think you’re doing well with your money overall, you may miss the signs that you’re undermining your long-term financial progress and causing yourself financial problems.
The good news is, if you pick it up early you can start to turn things around, make some changes, and ensure that you don’t run into any huge financial problems later down the track. If you notice any of the following signs in this money problem solving blog, it may be time to have a financial check-up!
Ten Signs You Could Have Money Trouble
1. You spend more on takeaway and dining out than you do on groceries!
This is one of the most touted budgeting tips! Are you constantly grabbing lunch at work from the café down the street? Or always dining out on weekends and maybe even a sneaky restaurant meal mid-week?
These purchases don’t necessarily mean you have financial troubles, but if you’re spending more on take-away and dining out than on your weekly groceries from a supermarket, you may not be handling your money very well. Add up all the spending you do on takeaway and dining, and you will quickly see how much it adds up to. You can save hundreds of dollars if you buy your food from the supermarket and cook at home more often.
2. You buy high-tech gadgets unnecessarily.
Do you always upgrade to the latest iPhone when there is nothing wrong with your previous phone? Do you have a smartwatch that you never use? Or do you get the latest gadget thinking it’s going to change your life, only to use it once in a blue moon?
Odd and expensive purchases like these are totally unnecessary, and could be causing you financial difficulties. If you’re buying high-tech gadgets and rarely use them, you are actually wasting money. To overcome this tech addiction, make it your mission to only upgrade to the latest version once your old one is starting to wear out. Price is what you pay, value is what you get – are you getting the true value out of what you pay for?
3. You have tagged clothes in your wardrobe.
Everyone loves a bargain, and buying sale items is a great way to save money on clothing if you buy them only when they go on sale. However, before you go out and get another bargain, ask yourself this question - do you have clothing items in the wardrobe still with the tags attached? If you do, this could be a sign that you’re buying clothes when you don’t even need them - and this behaviour could be causing you financial problems.
You can still splurge a little here and there within reason, but it’s also important to note that you should aim to buy clothes only if you genuinely need them. Buying items when they’re on sale, purely because they’re on sale, can mean a lot of clothes go to waste sitting in your wardrobe, and may never get worn. Next time you’re about to buy that bargain, just think about how good you would feel if you were to save that money instead!
4. You can’t go to the shops without buying something.
This tip is sure to help you solve money problem! Whether it’s the grocery store, Kmart or whatever other store you’re in love with, if you can’t visit without buying something, then you may have a money issue. Do you get this urge (see: impulse buying)?
If you are in control of your spending, you should be able to go to a store and browse the shelves without feeling the urge to buy. If you’re guilty of this behaviour, get into the habit of making a list and ticking it off every time you must go to the shops. This way, you have something to hold you accountable, and you can get that feeling of satisfaction by ticking off the list!
5. You originally got a credit card for the rewards points, but you’re maxed out.
Rewards point offers on credit card purchases can be very tempting. And though it’s great to get rewarded for spending on items you’d normally be buying in any case, chances are these “rewards” aren’t really getting you far - and your credit card is probably the source of your financial difficulties.
If you’re buying items for the sake of the points, and especially if you cannot pay your credit card bill in full or before any interest is added onto your purchase prices, you end up paying for the item, your reward and then some! At the end of the day, these reward programs exist to keep customers coming back – not to save them money. If you’re stuck in this trap it’s time to cut up the credit card and stick to cash instead.
6. You own a Sham-Wow.
Follow this budgeting tip to help de-clutter your home! We all know the infomercials that come across our TV screens showcasing the “latest in amazing technology” that claims to help us get through each day (we're talking about The Real Vince Offer here). Whether it’s a Sham-Wow, a Snuggie or even a Nutribullet, these items may come across as a must-have, but are they?
These infomercials are designed to get you spending on items you don’t really need, so if you have ever bought from the TV shop, ask yourself: How often have you used these items and do you still use them? If you have bought a product (or two) like this, stop watching these channels, put the phone down and put your credit card away! Go one better and rather than watch free-to-air TV, sign up for Netflix, Stan or Amazon, and enjoy watching your shows without ads!
7. You don’t make extra repayments.
When your credit card bill arrives, are you paying the bare minimum? Does this amount include repaying what you’ve spent or is it just for the interest? You might be in for a nasty surprise to realise just how much money you’re paying back your creditors if you’re only making the minimum repayments – and how long this will actually take you!
Paying only the minimum is sure to land you in financial difficulties if you suddenly find yourself unable to keep up with the repayments! If this sounds like you, time to get into the money problem solving mindset and pay down the debt instead. Need some motivation to get you started? Check our our article 5 Practical Ways to Stay Motivated to Pay Off Debt.
8. You borrow beyond your means.
Addressing this issue is one of the best ways to help solve money problem! Just because you got approved for a $10,000 credit card doesn’t necessarily mean you should take it. Some credit card companies will approve you for the very maximum that they will allow you to have, but you often have the option to accept less.
If you apply for a credit card on a major purchase with the intent to pay it off monthly, and you’re approved for a lot more than the purchase price, you don’t always have to accept it. In fact, accepting the amount the lender provides may leave you open to temptation and lead to financial issues down the track. Instead, accept only the amount you need and ensure the card is used purely for its intended purpose. If you’re in over head in credit card debt, consider seeking the services of professional debt negotiators such as Credit Counsellors.
9. You use your credit card to pay for bills.
One of the biggest warning signs that you may be starting to get in over your head in debt, is when you start paying for bills or credit card repayments with another credit card. It may be convenient to take care of a payment if you’ve had a slow month at work or an unexpected bill pops up out of nowhere leaving you short, but you should avoid paying your bills with a credit card where possible.
This way of spending can lead to bad habits with the use of your credit card, and it will leave you with a shocking bill with an astronomical interest rate on a cash withdrawal. Most credit card lenders will have a very large interest rate for cash withdrawals on a credit card, so you may pay a lot more than expected for that initial bill.
10. You don’t know how much you spend.
Does your pay go in the bank from work and suddenly you have no idea where most of it went? By the time you get paid again, you’re either surprised with what is left or totally dumbfounded by what you spent your money on.
A huge part of being budget-conscious is knowing exactly what’s coming in, and what amounts are going out. You should also know exactly what bills are due to be paid at what point of each month, how much they are and therefore, have a clear idea of how much money you have left to save. Part of being good with your money is understanding what you’re spending it on, and when.
Being Money Smart
You may consider yourself good with your money if you’re never left short and there’s always money in the bank, but you might not be as money-savvy as you think. If you found yourself nodding to any or all of the points made above, it may be a good opportunity to think about what you’re spending your money on and where you might be able to save a pretty penny. It’s never too late to get smart with your money, and even if you’re struggling, it’s never too late to get started.