3 Bad Habits I Developed After Reading Personal Finance Books

One of the downfalls of waiting so long in life to get serious about finances (by that I mean doing more than just paying the bills on time – I’m talking about getting debt-free and investing and securing a nest egg big enough and early enough to have some real life after retirement) is I feel like my window to succeed is so much smaller than everyone else’s.

I obsess over how much money I’ve wasted, squandered, lost, and spent since I started working at the age of 14. That embarrassing and terrible feeling about my past makes me feel intimidated and hopeless at times about the future. When I do the math, I know that’s not necessarily true, but it’s this feeling that has caused me to form 3 really bad habits regarding getting right financially.

About 50-80 years ago, people lost trust in banks – to a fault. The next generation put too much trust in banks – to a fault. I think we’re seeing a generation of folks being a little more cautious and saving more and getting serious about getting out of debt. There’s a market for this, and if you don’t believe me, go check out how many self-help books there are on personal finances, investing, etc.

I’m guilty…I’m on my third book in as many months. My eyes have been opened. However, in the process of doing some really really smart things with money, I almost immediately developed 3 terrible habits. I recommend reading these books, but be careful not to let these become your habits too.

1.) Checking the stock ticker 25-30 times per day.

At this very moment in time – I think I’ve side-hustled about $175 from various places and ways. At this very moment in time, as I write this, my overall investment change is 31 cents. I gained 27 of those cents yesterday. Long story short, checking the market 25-30 times a day is not going to make the numbers go up or down. Checking your investments weekly is sufficient, and if you’re in it for the long haul, monthly is acceptable to be honest.

I am in it for the long haul – but there are some who would get freaked out if they checked as often as I do. If I remember right, yesterday my investments were down all day. They gained during the last trading hour. So, you can imagine how stressful it would get to watch this all day long. The odds of you getting freaked out and selling off are increased when you look at it too much.

Relax. If you’re in it for the long game, you’ll get about 7% per year averaged out over time…or more! You’re fine. I just need to take my own advice.

2.) I’m interested in personal finance, so now everyone else has to be.

I feel like I learned so much in a small amount of time, and I feel like it’s my obligation to get my fellow man on board. Not everyone is in to this stuff though.

Money for some people is a nasty, divisive, polarizing topic that should be avoided like the plague, or rather, religion and politics. The other day I heard someone say, “I don’t put money in a 401k. I don’t trust the government.” This individual clearly doesn’t know anything about 401k plans – but opinions like that are like a fire. And people like me trying to financially coach them and teach them how a 401k actually works, yeah…people like me are gasoline. Putting gas on fire is not recommended.

I need to work on recognizing that BEFORE it happens. Answer questions – don’t solicit.

3.) Has it been 10 years yet?

It is so hard to be patient. While being patient, it’s hard to maintain discipline. To me, this makes time slow down, which amplifies the whole patience problem.

The other day I knew payday was coming. I calculated what bills were coming out during the lifespan of that two-week check, and tried to figure out to the penny where any extra money was that I could use to pay off debt faster. Anyway, it’s not as hard as I’m making it sound. You basically add up bills for the next two weeks, subtract that amount from your bill-payer checking account, then you have an amount leftover that you can save, invest, pay down a debt faster, etc. I’m really good at this part.

Then, I schedule the payments and transfers. Then my bad habit starts. I login in repeatedly ensure everything cleared, everything went where it should go. This is not necessary.

Back when we used checkbooks, you balanced the checkbook as you wrote checks, or when you got your statement in the mail. I don’t think anyone does that anymore that banks online. We watch everything real time.

I’d like to think this makes me very “on top of my game” but in reality, it’s like my stock market thing I mentioned earlier. I’d be equally if not more effective by doing this monthly and weekly rather than 20-25 times a day (not everyday…but I do it quite a bit).

Quality beats quantity.

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blue and yellow graph on stock market monitor
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Husband, dad, soldier, veteran, transportation manager, musician, and now a blogger and podcast host...sharing stories, experiences, and debates.

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