Bad Habits That Steal Your Money
We often undermine our own best efforts to control our money and its use by
allowing bad habits to take over certain areas of our lives. Life can be hectic
and one of the ways we learn to cope with it is by putting off things until we
have a less trying day or more time or feel better, or whatever. Unfortunately,
our "coping skills" can cost us money and contentment.
If you find yourself paying late charges on video rentals or library books,
realize that it's just a bad habit to not get things returned in time. Habits
can be changed. When you borrow or rent something, mark it on a calendar that
you'll see often, and change to the frugal habit of getting it back on time, or
even ahead of time.
Making a payment late and incurring charges for it can't always be helped, but
is it a habit for you? How much have you paid in late charges over the last six
months? That's real money we're talking about! Work hard on making it a frugal
habit to pay bills far enough ahead of time so they don't have a chance to
charge you "late fees."
A simple notebook is invaluable for this. List all your bills, arranging them
according to their due date and make a second column with the exact date in it.
Make another column on the same page and every time you pay a bill, put a
checkmark in this third column, along with any notes you might need to make. You
can then tell at a glance what is due when and how many bills you have left to
pay that month. A list like this will help you remember each bill ahead of time.
It's a good frugal habit to get into!
If you have credit card debt, you probably won't appreciate me pointing this out
as unnecessary expenditure, but paying someone for the privilege of owing them
hardly makes sense, does it? We pay enough interest on credit cards to keep some
humungous companies making a profit at our expense. That doesn't make sense
either, does it? If you have the habit of using a credit card, make it a frugal
habit to pay it off each month. (If you're deeper in debt than that to a credit
card company, make it a priority to get rid of that debt. Even paying fifty
cents worth of interest should be unacceptable to you. Keep the money yourself.
You'll be better off with it than without it.)
Parking tickets and traffic violations help support your local government, but
if you're feeling that patriotic, why not just donate at your leisure, instead
of being forced to pay up? In other words, get into the frugal habit of
following parking and traffic laws. Not doing so is expensive, considering how
little you get out of it. I would never pay fifty dollars for the privilege of
parking in a no parking zone... would you?
The human mind is teachable, and we can teach our own minds to be frugal out of
habit. It might take some effort, but frugal habits make life easier because you
don't have to think about doing the "right" thing - and you don't have to pay
for doing the wrong thing!