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5 Money Mistakes You Might Be Making (How to Avoid Them)
Money Mistake #1: My Money Is Disappearing
No one starts the month planning to fritter away a small fortune, but that’s what can happen when minor expenses spiral out of control. It’s not just shopping at Saks that gets you into trouble. Seemingly innocent purchases — $15 jeans at Target, a few things for the kids at a two-for-one sale, the occasional Frappuccino — can do real damage to your bottom line.
Money Mistake #2: I Throw Away Cash
Who would pass up free money? Maybe you, if you make only the minimum contribution to your employer’s 401(k) savings plan — or opt out of the plan on the grounds that money is tight. According to the 2008 Wachovia Retirement Survey, only about a quarter of women with 401(k)s contribute the maximum allowed. Puny 401(k) contributions mean you aren’t taking full advantage of any free matching funds your company offers. Says De Baca: “If your boss offered to add $25 to your weekly paycheck, would you turn it down? Of course not.” Most employers match all or part of the first 3 to 6 percent of pay employees contribute.
Money Mistake #3: My Kid’s Budget Runneth Over
Many parents find themselves wrestling with financial discipline when it comes to their children, says Galia Gichon, creator of “My Money Matters” Kit, a box of financial tips and workbooks. Whether it’s snacks for the little ones at the market or new skate shoes for your tween, “it’s amazing how quickly saying yes can add up,” says Gichon, a New York City financial planner and mother of two.
Money Mistake #4: I Never Saw a Windfall I Couldn’t Spend
Whether you receive a raise, a tax refund, or a generous birthday check from Aunt Dotty, it’s hard not to view a windfall as an excuse to go shopping. Splurging can be fun, but that’s rarely the best use of your extra cash. “Few Americans are saving enough to cover day-to-day crises, never mind the future,” says Jonathan Pond, author of Grow Your Money!
Money Mistake #5: I Forget What I’m Worth
If you’re a stay-at-home mom or you work part-time, you may not have enough life insurance. Many women are underinsured because they’ve underestimated their income or the value of their contributions to the household. De Baca recalls one client whose wife died in her 30s and had only a $100,000 life insurance policy, which didn’t cover the need for child care for the couple’s young children or the housekeeping chores the client then required.