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How to avoid common personal finance mistakes

While it’s true that life is full of unexpected twists and turns, sometimes it’s possible to see a financial crisis on the horizon and take steps to avoid it. Some personal finance mistakes are, in fact, so common that we’ve seen them time and time again. We have some solid ideas on how you can avoid the common pitfalls other people have gone through before you.

Interested to know more? We’re going to break down some of the most common personal finance mistakes and what you can do to steer clear of them.

Frivolous spending

You didn’t want to hear that, did you? Despite knowing spending too much money ain’t good, Canadians are still spending money they don’t have. The average amount of credit card debt per person in Canada is just over $8000. “That’s an awful lot of money to be carrying a balance on and paying consumer debt interest rates,” Sean Simpson, VP of public affairs for Ipsos, told Global News. The Canadians with the highest amount of debt are those ages 35-54 — typically the stage of life where people are raising families and have many expenses. The solution? You’ve heard it before — watch your expenses with an eagle eye, especially if you fall into this category. Spending less now will save you from a greater crisis later.

Not budgeting for an emergency fund

Not having any money to work with when disaster strikes can set you back overnight if something unavoidable happens out of the blue. It can undo all your hard work to get out of debt in the past. That’s why it’s critical to start putting money away for that “rainy day” as soon as you can. Even saving $10 or $20 a paycheque will make a huge difference next time you have an unexpected expense that needs to be taken care of immediately.

Neglecting to stick to a budget

If you fail to create a budget and stick to it, it won’t be very long before you’re sailing off course when it comes to your finances. If you have an ATB Financial account we highly recommend using their online TrackIt tool to monitor your finances. Getting into a plan and sticking to it is the easiest way to make sure your finances stay under your control.

Driving a car you can’t afford

Whether it’s a lease or a car you own — if the payments are too high for you to comfortably afford them, you’re driving yourself toward a disaster.

“A car or truck is a depreciating asset; it loses value continuously,” write CNN on their Money vertical. “When you finance or lease a car, you pay interest on a vehicle that is immediately worth less than you paid. Many people become trapped in a cycle where they buy a new car as soon as their old loan is paid off or go from one leased car to the next. If you do this, you’ll have car payments your entire life.”

Basically what it boils down to is this — if you can’t afford it comfortably, stay away. You might look cool in a nice, newly leased car. But do you know what’s even cooler? Not being financially over burdened. Go with that option.

Save money where you can for the times when you can’t

The unexpected is always going to happen and there will be times when you have to spend money to fix a problem or keep you out of a bigger one. But there are other times when you can keep yourself away from financial disaster by doing the tough work of thinking ahead when it comes to your finances. Empower yourself to notice the warning signs of an upcoming financial crisis and take the steps to steer away from that.

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