Go figure. Jesus is at the center of one of our most feared superstitions.
But, in order to get that part of the article, you have to skip past the fact that almost a billion dollars is lost every Friday the 13th because people are too afraid to conduct business as usual.
But for me, 13 had has a different meaning. 2013 is my money year. The year that I finally embraced mastering personal finance. In honor of my journey, I thought I’d share 13 bad money habits (many of which I’m recovering from!)
1. Not looking at your money daily - up until recently, I was notorious for not looking at my money on a daily basis. I’d check in once a week or when I needed to make a transaction, but I quickly realized that looking at it daily improved my relationship with it. What we see every day matters. Just look what happened when Google was worried that fat employees would impact their bottom line.
2. Setting financial goals with no clear plan – S.M.A.R.T is great goal setting framework when you are focused on results; but mastering personal finance is more about changing behaviors and impacting everyday choices. If you focus on establishing a solid foundation, the results come. Meet Joan. My favorite part of her journey is that she introduced me to “Very Next Steps”. I prefer this methodology in planning. The ‘very’ adds an urgency and a priority and the “next steps” acknowledges that it is one of many.
3. Exception management with friends – your social circle plays a role in your wealth building. Lenders are beginning acknowledge this, even if you aren’t. Friends and family are often the perfect scapegoats for deviating from our plans. We justify things like ‘splitting the bill evenly’ even if your portion was significantly smaller or offering small loans when you are in no position to handle non-repayment. Establish your boundaries early. Start small, ask for separate checks. And certainly, don’t ‘loan’ anything if you’re not in a position to ‘give’ it.
4. Avoiding money discussions with friends – a money discussion with two teachers sparked my passion for education reform (and subsequently, homeschooling) and non-traditional learning. I was shocked by how little they’re valued in the eyes of their profession. According to DailyWorth, “talking about money with friends who work in other industries gives you a sense of what people of equal smarts and hustle feel they’re worth.” The disparity is incredible. And if you’re a woman, talking to your male friends is often the first clue to determine whether you’re being discriminated against.
5. Not negotiating salary, fees or wages – we should take a hint from our international brothers and sisters approach to economics: anything that has a $ in front of it is up for negotiation. At the end of the day, negotiation is about getting people to believe you’re worth it. Here is a great article if you want to learn the secret to getting people to believe in you.
6. Inserting emotions into money conversations – there are lots of ways embarrassment and shame manifest themselves into money conversations, but it’s usually through disclaimers. When your financial philosophy is shaped by emotions, it causes you have an illogical response to other people’s money. Seth Godin concludes that “if money is an emotional issue for you, you’ve just put your finger on a big part of the problem. No one who is good at building houses has an emotional problem with hammers.”
7. Fighting about it – I remember watching Suze Orman counsel a couple with a ton of debt and being struck by her advice. She said, “you can’t solve a money fight by talking about money.” The first step is acknowledging that “money issues” usually have deep personal roots. This takes a lot of courage to admit, but working together to identify which old habits are causing new problems can only make a couple more supportive of each other.
8. Carrying revolving credit card debt – This is one that hits home for me and there are two quotes that really sum up my feelings around credit card debt. One is from Warren Buffet when he says, “Life is like a snowball. The important thing is finding wet snow and a really long hill”. The other is from Narcotics Anonymous and it’s simply, “You gotta wanna.” Credit card debt severely impacts your ability to start your life’s snowball. And really, it’s completely avoidable. You just gotta wanna.
9. Insuring everything – the first sign that you are not wealthy is that you buy insurance for everything. At the end of the day, wealth is not about achieving number of dollars, it’s about having options and the ability to take on risk. Rule of thumb: insure what you cannot comfortably afford to replace.
10. Thinking of “retirement” in terms of a 401K – more and more research is coming to light about the hidden costs of 401K plans. But ultimately, a comfortable retirement is not all about money. Take care of yourself. Eat well, stay active and save your cash. As health care costs keep increasing, so will deductibles.
11. Thinking of “investments” only as stocks and bonds – There are small things you can do with your money to have big impact on future earnings. Learn a new language, get a professional headshot, purchase the Custom CSS upgrade on WordPress so you can learn some basic coding – the list is endless! I keep a google doc entitled “Personal Investments” to help me track all the things I want to do.
12. Postponing for a passion – When you start to view money as a tool of exchange, you start to understand how it can give you freedom and access. In order to pursue your passion fully, in a way that is both meaningful AND fulfilling, you need to be able to eat. And you need to be self-sufficient. The first step is not trying to figure out how to monetize what you love. The first step is money.
13. Not Making a List of Your Funny Money Habits - this is the fun part where you get to learn about yourself. Self-awareness is the key to change. Write down some of the things you’d like to change about your finances and the habits that are preventing you from doing so. Surprise yourself…or better yet, scare yourself.