Money Problems? 10 Ways You Are Your Own Worst Enemy

Are you having trouble getting ahead with your finances? Have you been failing miserably no matter how hard you try? If you’ve tried everything and you still can’t seem to dig yourself out of debt, you might be contributing to your money woes.

When you find yourself in this type of situation, it’s time to take a good hard look at how you’ve been managing your money (or mismanaging as the case may be). Here are 10 types of ways you could be holding yourself back from reaching your financial goals. No. 8 is one of the biggest sins in personal finance.

1. You try to keep up with your friends

Group of friends takes a selfie on the couch

Appearances aren’t always what they seem |

The grass is always greener on the other side — or is it? You might be envious of what your friends, family, or co-workers have, but things aren’t always as they seem. Remember that even though their grass looks greener, it still has to be watered. And it might be very expensive grass to water. Your neighbors could be enjoying the fabulous life because they’re living a borrowed lifestyle. Sure, they look flawless, but if it weren’t for the magic swipe of their Discover or MasterCard credit card, they might not be able to pay for groceries or afford their mortgage. Don’t go into debt just so you can keep up appearances. Run your own financial race.

2. You let your emotions rule your spending

A woman carrying three shopping bags in her hand stops in front of a store's window and admires the display

Don’t let your emotions dictate your spending habits |

Our feelings can add richness and depth to our experiences. For example, feelings of joy and excitement that accompany a positive life event can make that moment sweeter. However, emotions can also have a negative impact on us, making life more difficult. This is especially true when it comes to our finances. Emotional spending can get you into a world of trouble and land you in debt that’s hard to dig yourself out of. In a survey commissioned by NerdWallet and conducted by Harris Poll, 49% of respondents said their emotions caused them to spend more money than they could afford.

3. You procrastinate

Man kicks his feet up on the couch as he gets ready to take a nap

Stop procrastinating and work on your budget today |

No one is going to manage your financial life for you. Until you make the decision to get your money in order, you will continue to sink deeper into debt and have very little resources when you face a financial emergency. Now is the time to clean up your financial act — not tomorrow, next week, or when you get a higher-paying job.

4. You lend money to whomever asks

Man holds three one dollar bills in his left hand

You won’t get your money back, no matter how much you beg |

If you decide to lend money, be prepared to never see it again. Most of the time, those who borrow money never get around to returning it. And if they do, it’s usually not the entire amount. A study conducted by the Journal of Economic Psychology found that borrowers generally treat loans as gifts. So your best bet is to make sure you can afford to part with your money before you make an agreement.  Also remember that you’re not obligated to give out loans just because someone asks. Set boundaries with your cash.

 5. You’re being financially unfaithful

Wads of 50 and 100 dollar bills stuffed under a mattress

Your partner will eventually find that stack of cash under the mattress |

Are you hiding purchases from your partner or covering up a destructive financial habit? Financial infidelity can prolong poor money management. For example, if you have a shopping addition or a gambling habit, keeping this from your partner could prevent you from getting the help you need. A study conducted by YouGov on behalf of life insurance agency Haven Life found that one in five Americans are hiding debt from their partners, and one in six admit to having a financial secret. If you’re in a situation like this, it’s time to come clean so you can get on the road to financial health and repair your finances.

6. You’re not prepared for a financial emergency

Piggy bank floats on buoy on the open ocean

Good luck getting out of a financial mess if you don’t have an emergency savings fund |

Not having an emergency fund is a surefire way to head straight for a financial disaster. It’s generally best to put away some money each month for emergency funds. This will help provide a cushion when a financial emergency arises. Having enough cash saved can reduce your chances of having to rely on credit to make ends meet. In addition, you should also have money set aside for incidentals.

7. You blame others for your debt

A pile of money is set on fire

Take responsibility for your own financial fires | NRCC

Unless you were a victim of identity theft, you are the only one responsible for your debt. A 2017 NerdWallet study found that some consumers place blame on others when it comes to high-interest debt. Roughly 36% of respondents blamed credit card companies, saying they should stop charging interest on balances. Others blamed their employers (26%) for not paying them enough or retailers (20%) for not lowering their prices.

Stop blaming others and take responsibility for your debt. Getting angry won’t pay your bills any faster. Instead of finding someone to blame for your debt, take steps to pay it off. How? Pay your bills in full and on time each month, pay more than the minimum, and regularly check your credit reports for errors.

8. You’re not saving for retirement

Retirement ahead sign

Plan now or end up broke later | iStock

It’s important to think about your future well-being, not just your present financial comfort. You’ll become your own worst enemy years from now if you don’t start saving for your retirement. Don’t reason with yourself that you have time, because the later you start, the harder it becomes to catch up on savings. And don’t say you’ll just work until you die. As you age, your chances of becoming physically unable to work rise. Approximately one in four of today’s 20-year-olds will become disabled before they have a chance to retire, according to the United States Social Security Administration.  

9. You don’t have a clue about personal finance

Woman holds a 100 dollar bill up to her mouth

It’s up to you to learn about money management |

You have no excuse for not understanding personal finance basics. There are plenty of good financial books, seminars, workshops, and websites out there. Unfortunately, research gathered by the National Capability Study revealed that nearly two thirds of Americans can’t pass a basic test of financial literacy. Take the time to educate yourself about saving, budgeting, investing, and retirement planning.

10. You have no financial self-control

A trash can with money bags

Stop wasting money | Source: iStock

One of the top reasons for falling behind when it comes to financial management is a lack of self-control. If you have trouble with spending, leave the plastic at home and stick to cash. Depending on the severity of your spending habits, you may also need to talk to a financial therapist to see if you have a deeper issue with money.

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