We’re all guilty of making mistakes with our finances from time to time. Whether it’s an impulse buy, being sucked in by a marketing promotion or paying too much interest on your mortgage, it’s likely that you’ve paid too much for something at some point in your life.
While you may be pretty savvy when it comes to money, there’s always room for improvement. To help you stay one step ahead and to remain in control of your finances, here are some cringe-worthy money mistakes that you should try and avoid.
1. Only paying the minimum repayment amount
When a bank sends you your monthly loan or credit card statement, it will outline the minimum repayment amount that is due (normally 2.5 per cent of the closing balance). However, what most people don’t know is that this is a tactic employed by banks to keep you as a customer (and paying interest) for longer.
Only making the minimum repayment on a loan or credit card debt may not seem that bad, but it does mean that you’ll take the longest possible time to repay your debt. Instead of only making the minimum repayment, try to pay a little extra each month to chip away at your debt faster and to pay less interest overall.
In a perfect world, we’d be able to repay the full statement amount every time. But the reality is that many of us can only just afford to make the minimum repayment. This is why whenever you do have some extra cash, you should consider putting it towards your debt as a priority.
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2. Not backing yourself when asking for a pay rise
Women are notorious for not backing themselves when it comes to performance reviews, and frankly, it’s something that we need to overcome. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that every woman should take their employer aside and request a 20 per cent pay rise effective immediately, but the conversation should be had when it’s due. No one’s going to ask for you.
Women need to start to backing themselves so that they feel more comfortable asking for a raise. Even a 5 per cent salary increase could go a long way in helping you to boost your earning capacity and your financial health. If you’re nervous about asking, have a pep talk with a colleague before your review or jot down some points that you definitely want to raise in the discussion.
Chat with friends or co-workers in the industry to get a feel for what others are being remunerated for, and check out sites like PayScale too.
3. Going without a “rainy day” fund
Failing to establish a “rainy day” fund is a risk not worth taking. If you’re raising a young family, it’s almost guaranteed that an unforeseen expense will come your way. Unexpected medical bills, child care costs or even a sudden loss of employment are just some of the curly costs that you may be confronted with.
A study by finder.com.au, which surveyed 2,031 Aussies, found that 58 per cent of people fear that they won’t be able to afford a medical emergency if it were to come their way. Women (60 per cent) more than men (55 per cent) confessed that an unexpected cost was their biggest financial fear, which goes to show that building an emergency rainy day fund is crucial.
Try to stash away at least 5-10 per cent of your savings in a separate account so that you can cope with the unexpected if it arises.
4. Being slack with Internet banking
These days, online banking and banking apps are equipped with user-friendly interfaces, 24/7 online support, calculators and interactive ATM-locator maps. There’s no excuse for being lazy.
Download your bank’s app and make the most of the features on offer. This could actually save you money. Even simple things like setting up auto payments can ensure that you don’t fall behind on recurring bills or repayments, and using an ATM locator to find your bank’s nearest ATM will mean that you won’t have to pay any ATM withdrawal fees.
5. Going grocery shopping without a list (and while you’re hungry!)
Listless supermarket shopping is a financial sin. If you’re wandering the aisles with no real idea of what you need to buy, you’re just asking to be overcharged.
Before you hit the shops, take five minutes to check your fridge to see what essentials you need. Then, make a brief list on your phone of what you want to buy. Other ways to save on your grocery spend include opting for generic brands, buying in bulk and checking expiry dates.
6. Filling up with petrol on the weekend
Petrol tends to be more expensive on the weekend, so try to avoid filling up on Saturday or Sunday. Typically, Tuesday is considered the cheapest day of the petrol cycle, so keep this in mind next time you need to fill up. There are also apps like Fuel Check that can help you pinpoint where the cheapest petrol is in your area.
Sometimes money mistakes are hard to avoid, particularly when you have to deal with the everyday stresses and distractions of life. But a little bit of common sense and planning can ensure that you avoid any of the glaringly obvious cringe-worthy mistakes that could seriously harm your bank account.
What do you do to keep on top of your finances ?
Bessie Hassan is the Australian head of PR at Finder.com.au. At finder.com.au, you'll be able to compare from a variety of product types, from cards, to loans and insurance.