Regardless of whether you’re already winning or in need of direction, we want to help you succeed with your financial goals—which involves knowing what not to do as much as knowing what to do.
So if you want to make it happen with your money this year, make sure you don’t do the following things—they’re sure to make you broke.
1. Just wing it.
This is the opposite of making a plan. If Dave Ramsey had an evil twin brother, "just wing it" might be his catch phrase. You can’t "just wing it" with your money. You have to make a plan—including a budget—that includes all your short-term and long-term financial goals. If you want to make a plan but you’re not sure where to start, get the free EveryDollar Guide to Budgeting!
2. Wait until 2018.
If, while thinking about your goals for the year, you said something like, “This just isn’t a good year to try and get out of debt,” then you’ve already set yourself up for failure. Now is the time. This is the year. Unless you just enjoy stress and debt, no more procrastinating.
3. Expect the government to help you.
If you’re waiting around on the folks in Washington, D.C., and the next president we elect later this year to change your life, then you had better settle in and get comfortable—it’s going to be a while. The better plan is to take charge of your own life. The bucks (pun intended) stop and start with you. You are in charge of you.
4. Make excuses.
When we mess up with money, we sometimes tend to think we are the exception—that if people really understood our situation, they would know that a car lease or an adjustable rate mortgage or a pile of student loans is okay. Everyone goes through rough spots in life, but that’s no reason to let go of common sense and create more stress and heartache for yourself in the long run.
5. Use payment plans.
If you want to win with money, you need to take “payment plans” out of your vocabulary. Successful people don’t finance their couches. Or their dining room tables. Or even their cars. If you have to put it on a payment plan, you can’t afford it. As the old saying goes, “Broke people ask, ‘How much per month?’ and rich people ask, ‘How much?’”
6. Buy every “updated” version of all the hot products.
At some point, we’ve decided that having a nice phone or a nice computer or a nice TV isn’t enough. We must have the newest, nicest version of everything. We’ve become entitled. That’s why some companies release a new product every single year. They know we’ll line up outside a store at midnight and wait in line for five hours to get a new phone that is 1/8 of an inch thinner than the one we already have. And the saddest part? How many of those people in line are dropping $500 on a phone when they don’t even have money saved for retirement or their kids’ college funds? Don’t get us wrong; new things are fun … as long as your priorities are in order.
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Related: Sometimes it isn’t the latest and greatest gadget that gets us: Top 10 Things Americans Wasted Money on in 2016
7. Listen to your broke friends (or family).
If you got through all the holiday family dinners unscathed by horrible financial advice, lucky you. One of the best ways to go broke is to take advice from broke people—like Uncle Earl and your old friend Pete. Listen to those guys and, before you know it, you’ll be invested in a pyramid scheme, leasing a BMW, and taking out a home equity loan to finance that Civil War figurine collection you just had to get.
8. Live in the past.
Forget about how you got into a bad financial situation; instead, look forward to how you plan on getting out. You can beat yourself up all you want, but that will only make things worse. The fact that you’ve realized the problem—whether it’s credit cards, overspending, not saving enough, etc.—is a great indicator that you’re ready to change. Now go do it.
9. Spend more time dreaming than working.
The opposite of living in the past is spending too much time dreaming about the future. That’s not a good option either. There’s nothing wrong with dreaming—that’s what hope is all about. But dreaming and working go hand in hand. You can’t let your dreams paralyze you and keep you from stepping out and getting things done. As we say around Dave’s office, “Goals are dreams with work boots on.”
Remember, winning with money is not just about doing the right things—it’s also about not doing the wrong things. If you can make it through this year without doing any of the above, then you are well on your way to having an awesome year.
Set yourself up to win with money this year. Take advantage of the money class that will change your life. Learn more about Financial Peace University.