Financial planner Dave Ray acknowledges that we all do ‘stupid shit’ with money. He shares his own list and wonders what you’d put on yours…
We all do dumb stuff with our money. Even when we understand the mistakes we should avoid, we still make them.
This list is compiled not just from what I see, but mostly from what I’ve done! The harshest lesson is to make your own mistakes, but it will save you some dollars if you can learn from others.
Here’s my list and what you can learn from it. What would you put on your list?
Budgeting stupid shit
Trying to save whatever is left after all your expenses instead of saving first
Pay your savings first! You’re human so chances are you’ll spend whatever you make. Flip it around and tuck your savings away first. Then whatever you have left in the kitty is what you have to live off.
More on this strategy here: The simplest way to stick to a budget for people who hate budgets
Having no idea how much you are spending and where it goes
Remember that old saying “take care of the pennies and the pounds will take care of themselves”? It might be dollars and cents these days, but it’s all still true. You can fritter away mega-bucks by spending tiny amounts consistently. Don’t do that. Use an app to track what you’re spending your money on and reduce it as often as you can.
A pack a day at $30 is $10,950 a year. Enough said.
Just don’t. There’s nothing ‘entertaining’ about throwing your money in the bin.
Not paying off your credit card every month
Unless of course you like paying 17% interest to the bank for no good reason whatsoever. You can avoid this one by:
- only using a credit card if you know for a fact that you can pay it off in full at the end of the month
- not using a credit card. Go ahead, cut it up.
Buying shit you don’t need
Especially when it’s on sale so you can “save” money. Spoiler alert: you’re not saving anything.
You can stop buying shit you don’t need by:
- abiding by a set timeframe to make any purchasing decisions (eg. 48 hours)
- setting a cap on unplanned purchases (eg. $50)
- knowing exactly what you need so you reduce the allure of wants
More on this: 3 simple tips to stop overspending
Doing dumb stuff via the sharemarket
Buying a stock after you read about in a “Best Stocks to Own This Year” article
Guilty! The fact is, investing well takes a lot more know-how than reading about which stocks are hot and rushing to buy them. Actually, that’s exactly what you shouldn’t do.
Buying a stock because your mate knows a guy who knows a guy on the board and they are about to…
That’s hearsay at best and insider trading at worst. Spoiler alert: getting a ‘hot tip’ from some random source very rarely ends up with you buying into the next Atlassian.
Watching a 24-hour business channel to form you view of where markets are headed
In a word: bias. Always be wary of getting your sharemarket advice from one source only.
Thinking anyone knows where markets are headed
Nobody knows. Not even Warren Buffet.
General stupid shit with money
Investing your retirement account in mostly cash/safe assets in your 20s or 30s
You’re young, you’ve got time on your side, so it’s okay to play it less safe.
Not taking advantage of the tax concessions available to you
Why pay a cent more to tax than you have to? There are plenty of ways to legally reduce your tax bill, so find out exactly what they are and start putting money back into your own pocket. Start with:
- Salary sacrificing
- Claiming work-from-home costs
- Using super to reduce your tax rate
- Investing wisely
- Claiming all work-related expenses
Being up to your eyeballs in debt because everyone says you “have to get into the property market”
Bottom line: don’t take on debt you can’t afford, no matter the reason. Anyway, it often makes far greater financial sense to keep renting rather than buying. So, if you can’t afford to buy, rent and invest your money elsewhere.
Using the maximum a bank will lend you as a guide to how much you should borrow
Just remember, the bank isn’t the one that has to pay back the loan. You do, and preferably as quickly as possible.
Stay in control and borrow the maximum you can afford to pay back, not the maximum they’ll let you borrow. That might mean making some sacrifices on the type of property you buy, but you can always trade up later when you’re in a better financial position. Think long term.
Thinking more money will bring/buy you happiness
More money doesn’t bring you anything except more money. Knowing what to do with the money you have now is what it’s all about. It won’t buy you happiness, exactly, but being in control of your money sure does bring you peace of mind. And without that, nothing else will make you happy either.
Go on, make your own list of all the stupid shit you’ve done with money. It’s an eye-opener, but you can’t change what you don’t acknowledge. Write it down, then figure out what you can do to stop it.
This is an edited version of an article that originally appeared on Do Well + Good and is republished here with permission. This article contains general information only. This should not be relied on as independent finance or tax advice. If you are after specific professional advice, speak to your registered tax agent/financial advisor or reach out to Dave at Federation Financial Services.