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Freeze Out Bad Financial Habits this Winter

[Monday, January 20th, 2014]

The Polar Vortex that swept across the United States after the holidays left many of us frozen, digging out of snow banks and turning up the heat—if we weren’t repairing burst pipes. But some things deserve to be left out in the cold. On the top of that list are bad financial habits. Freeze out your worse money mistakes this winter, and start spring with a fresh slate. Here are some of the worst financial habits that many of us have, and how to freeze them out of your life this winter.

  • Not putting money aside for savings. No matter what excuse you think you have, failing to put money aside for savings is a bad move. Whether you make too little money, have too many expenses, or just think that saving money is pointless or you are bad at it, you need to start saving—now. Set up a savings account and link it to your checking account so you can set up automatic deposits. Money that never hits your bank account in the first place is money you can’t miss. Try to put aside 10% and don’t touch it, no matter what. You can decide what to do with it later, but for now, just get that savings started.
  • Putting purchases on credit cards when you can’t really afford them. It can be very tempting to pay for something with a credit card when you can’t afford to pay cash, but think twice before doing this. If you can’t afford to pay for this purchase when the credit card bill is due, you may not be able to afford it at all. This is how people end up under heavy credit card debt. Ask yourself if the purchase is really worth the stress of having debt you cannot pay off. If not, skip it.
  • Paying too much interest on your credit cards. If you don’t know the APR on your credit card, you need to find out—particularly if you are carrying a balance. It’s easy to ignore the terms and conditions of your credit card agreement, but they are important to know. If you have a large balance that you are trying to pay down, look for a balance transfer credit card that will let you pay it off, interest-free. Even if you don’t want to apply for a new credit card, it never hurts to call your credit card company and ask to renegotiate terms. Don’t pay more interest than you have to.
  • Ignoring your credit card rewards. Look at your credit card statement right now and find out if you have points, miles or cash back that you haven’t redeemed. Chances are, you do. Many people don’t bother to read their statements closely enough and let those rewards go unclaimed. Don’t let it happen to you. Credit card rewards can be worth hundreds of dollars in gift cards, travel or even cold hard cash. Don’t leave them on the table.

Take action now so that when warm weather comes, these bad financial habits are left behind with the polar vortex.

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