3 Money Mistakes I Keep Repeating

Over the past 4-5 months, I’ve made a ton of changes in my financial life. I’ve worked very hard to identify my problem areas, reduce wasteful spending, save money, and hold myself accountable. Despite these efforts, though, I have noticed that I keep making some of same mistakes that caused my financial downfall in the first place. While I feel like I’m fairly safe from returning to my old ways, I also realize I still have a LOT of room for improvement.

Mistake 1: Window shopping.
I’ve been on a shopping/spending freeze since December. That means I don’t go into stores. Period. The one time I broke this rule was enough to prove that a shopping freeze is appropriate. Yet I find myself searching through Amazon, Target, and Old Navy and adding things to my online shopping cart. I don’t buy them, but the want is still very much there. I have 37 bookmarks for things I absolutely must buy “when I have the money.” Well, at that rate, I’ll never have any money because I’ll spend it all on stuff I don’t need. I don’t know why it’s so hard to stop looking - what am I even looking for? The consumer frame of mind is hard to set aside, even when I’m motivated.

Mistake 2: Keeping cash.
I hate cash. I always have. In my brain, cash is separate from the money in the bank and I don’t have to account for it. Recently I’ve been selling some of the random junk in my house, and every time I get cash in my hand, I make the decision to keep it instead of putting it in the bank. Ahem. Let me repeat that. I make the decision to keep it. That’s right; I look at the money, think about it, and make a conscious choice. If I get a large amount, it’s much easier, but less than $50? It’s going in my pocket and I promise I won’t even be able to tell you where I spend it. I don’t even know how much money I’ve wasted at this point, but I’m sure it’s a substantial amount. Given a choice, I ask people to pay me via check or PayPal, but I have to be honest - who even writes checks any more? And PayPal isn’t always a possibility. It’s hard to tell people, “Look, I need this money, but if you give it to me I’ll waste it on crap. Please take it to my bank for me.” I did order an entire pad of deposit slips so I won’t have the excuse, “What if I need this deposit slip for something important?” Mostly, though, I’m going to have to make a conscious decision to stop this madness.

Mistake 3: Failing to create concrete savings goals.
Don’t get me wrong - I’m saving money. I have $1100 in my savings account right now, which is a miracle for me. But aside from saving $5000 in an emergency fund and contributing $200 a month to my Roth IRA, I haven’t created any other goals for myself. I feel like I should be saving for something I want or need so I can have the joy of getting something I worked for. Honestly, I should probably start saving for some bedroom furniture - I’ve been in my house for 16 months and still don’t have a headboard, dressers, or nightstands. (I do have a step stool beside my bed with my alarm clock on it. I have to go get it periodically to reach something in the top cabinets in the kitchen. How ghetto is that?) I’d also love to take a real vacation next year. Sometimes I think I avoid setting financial goals with a time limit because I’m scared I won’t get there on time. Which is a stupid excuse.

I could probably keep going and make this “100 Money Mistakes I Keep Repeating,” but I try not to overwhelm myself. Right now, these are the things that are bothering me most. While the solutions may seem obvious, I refuse to say I’m going to do something I know darn well I won’t do. I just need to sit with these mistakes for awhile, decide whether it’s worth it to keep making them, and make a plan.

What money mistakes are hardest for you to stop making? I’d love to hear your comments!

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About Andrea

Andrea is a single parent trying to help others avoid the same financial mistakes she made in the past. Join in the discussion here on So Over Debt, or connect on Facebook, Twitter, or Google Plus.
  • Frugal Forties

    Your first two mistakes are also mine. I am bad about shopping and adding things to my wish lists and online carts "for later". Luckily I've been pretty good about avoiding pulling the trigger on those, but pretty good isn't perfect and it's messed me up a few times.

    I also look at cash as something outside my 'regular' spending. And it's even worse when, as with last week, I covered a coworker for lunch on my credit card. She paid me back in cash the next day and it was "free money". Ahem. Yeah. Gotta stop that one.

    My other thing is that my credit union allows me a small overdraft on my checking account for a low fee. I have found myself dipping into my overdraft because "it'll just cost $10". Stupidest. Justification. Ever. But I do it at least once a pay period just to tide me through. For some reason I can justify a $10 fee on $100 worth of groceries, rather than waiting 3 days until payday to buy those same groceries. Argh.

    You're not alone in your repeating!

  • Andrea

    Overdraft was my best friend and worst enemy. I opted out of overdraft for my PNC account - it's linked to my savings, so that's the only overdraft I get.

    The new ING account had an option for overdraft, and I really like their system - instead of an overdraft fee, you pay like 7.25% per day on the amount you're in the red. So 73 cents a day on ten bucks. I know myself too well, though, so I opted out of that too. It would only be a matter of time before I thought, "Well, that's only $7.25 per day on $100!" and "That's only $72.50 per day on $1000!"

    I'm glad I'm not the only one… I really feel like we were cut from the same financial cloth sometimes! And I'm sure the cloth was probably some unnecessarily expensive fabric too!

  • Alltid Blakk

    Food - I want it to be easy and fast. I absolutely hate planning, cooking and cleaning up after. I overspend month after month, and it's keeping from reaching my goals.

    When I get cash I just put it in a jar since my bank is a pure internet bank, and I got no way to deposit it. It's a "only cash" emergency jar. Others remove the same amount they got in cash from their grocery money into savings.

  • Andrea

    Food is definitely another one I left off the list! Since it's just me and my son, cooking usually ends up being a huge waste of food. Not to mention he's a picky eater. I work long hours and it's so nice to just throw something in the microwave. Unfortunately that means I pay a lot more than I should for groceries.

  • Ashley @ Money Talks

    I never even window shop. It will lead to spending. I always have a list when I go into a store and I don't look online unless I'm looking for something specific.

    Eating out is also a huge weakness of mine!