Tuesday, July 17, 2012

We Scored 100 Percent on these 10 Money Habits

I find it fun and interesting gauging my money saving habits and techniques against those of others. This mean that when I recently stumbled across an MSN Money article by way of MarketWatch entitled “Avoid your parents’ money mistakes” I enjoyed comparing our family’s financial progress and acumen to the items listed in the article.

In effect, the article was stating that by adhering to the following ten money habits, recent college grads might have a better chance at a successful financial future. Therefore, since my wife and I are already in our mid-30s, I wanted to see if we were on the right track and decided to put our family to the test when compared to the article’s 10 money habits.

“Create a budget”
I created a budget the year I graduated college and haven’t looked back since. It not only helps rein in our spending, but in the process, I can track expenses to help me gauge how and where we spend.

“Have a rainy-day fund”
Even before I’d completely paid off my student loans that first year after graduation, I had begun building my emergency fund. Gradually, this fund has grown over time so that our family now tries to keep a “rainy-day fund” of around $5,000 available to insure that we can cover a variety of possible emergency scenarios should they arise.

“Pay off your credit cards”
Neither my wife nor I have ever carried a balance on our credit cards over the years; therefore, paying off our credit cards has never been an issue.

“Pay your bills on time”
We’re on the “pay ‘em as you get ‘em” plan for all our bills. Whether they’re property taxes or cable and internet, it doesn’t matter what they are or when they come, we have always paid our bills on time. This helps us stay current, avoid late fees, and provides peace of mind.

“Don’t spend more than you make”
While on a monthly basis – with larger bills relating to property taxes or medical costs arriving – we might not always be able to make more than we spend, on a longer-term annual basis, we meet this money habit.
By adhering to our budget and tracking our expenses, we can gauge the differential between income and expenses quite easily when it comes to this aspect of our financial lives.

“Be careful with your mortgage"
Having downsized to a small condo, we were able to purchase the property in cash, thereby eliminating the need for a mortgage. This has taken our home-related costs from around $2,250 a month in our previous home, down to about $750 a month now.

“Start thinking about retirement now”
I started thinking about retirement as soon as I graduated college. Shortly after entering the working world, I realized that the sooner I could pay off debt and focus on the future, the better prepared that I – and eventually my spouse – would be for our golden years.

“Start saving for retirement now”
Being aware and knowledgeable of our retirement goals and timeframe allowed me, as well as my wife, to take advantage of employer sponsored retirement options such as 401(k), 403(b), and employee stock purchase plans. We found that this was a good thing to do early in our careers since later on things like buying a home, having children and making career and location changes would make it much more difficult to squeeze out the extra money for bolstering our retirement savings.

“Set your financial goals”
We’ve set numerous financial goals over the years. As we age, our situation changes or our family grows, these financial goals tend to change; however, they are always there providing a look ahead toward the future and giving us the motivation to keep forging ahead with our financial dreams.

“Learn about personal finance”
Well, considering that I read and write about personal finance on a regular basis, and even maintain a personal finance blog, I think we’re doing pretty well in this area. However, I also feel that it’s important to constantly be on the lookout for new information relating to personal finance so that we can continue the learning process and expand our knowledge in this ever-changing area.


Pelletier, John. MarketWatch. “Avoid you parents’ money mistakes.” July 6, 2012. http://money.msn.com/family-money/avoid-your-parents-money-mistakes-marketwatch.aspx. July 10 2012.

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