Falling into debt is easier than you might think. Even the most organised of financially savvy people can have the odd lapse. While most of us know that borrowing money when you can’t afford to pay it back and using credit cards to excess are almost sure-fire ways to end up in financial dire straits, there might be other, more subtle everyday things you’re doing that could put you on course for money woes.
This Trust Deed Scotland resource highlighting the bad money habits of Britons reveals a few everyday mistakes that, if left to creep up, can burn a significant hole in your pocket. Here are five common ways you could end up in debt – without even realising it.
Not keeping an eye on the bigger picture
Our finances are rarely fixed. They’re much more fluid than that, much more open to change. One easy way to slip unknowingly into debt is to ignore the ‘bigger picture’ by failing to respond to life changes that can significantly affect your personal expenditure.
Financial considerations can change when you switch jobs, have children, buy a car, move to a new area or do anything else that has an impact on your life. Remember to factor in any lifestyle changes and apply these to your financial budgeting. If you’re having a child, how much will you need each month to feed and clothe him or her? If you’ve booked an expensive summer holiday, what do you need to cut back on in the coming months to ensure you keep on top of things?
Paying out for things you don’t use
Review all your monthly payments: how many magazine subscriptions do you have and how many streaming services do you pay for? Still paying mobile phone insurance for a phone you no longer use? Pay for a fruit and veg delivery but find it usually ends up in the bin? If so, do a sweep of all these kinds of outgoings and cancel anything you don’t use. Monthly subscription-based payments tend to be small and can slip by unnoticed, but if they’re allowed to build up, they can land you in a whole heap of trouble.
Not keeping an eye on savings rates
Generally speaking, banks tend to tempt new customers by offering attractive interest rates that, importantly, only last for a set period before dropping to a pretty low rate. Review your savings accounts – are you still getting enough bang for your buck? If not, research the market and see if you’d be better investing your money elsewhere. Even if savings rates are low across the board, it’s worth getting the best deal possible, as it all helps.
Burying your head in the sand
If you hit genuine financial trouble, or you feel you’re teetering on the precipice, speak out. Of course, it’s much easier to bury your head in the sand in the hope it will all go away, but it won’t. Front up, be honest and reach out to someone you trust – be that a partner, family member, next-door neighbour or friend. Or get in touch with a debt charity or financial advice organisation. Look for one that offers impartial advice so you know they’ve got your interests at heart.
Not making new habits
Once you’ve started trying to save money and you’re avoiding these common financial mishaps, don’t stop there. It’s good practice to always be on the lookout for ways you can make greater inroads on the journey to financial success. Review your spending habits on a monthly basis and be proactive – if you spot an opportunity to save some cash, however small, go for it.
Do you have any common money mistakes? What are your experiences of managing debt? Share them with us.