9 Money Mistakes You're Probably Making


Refinery 29 Money Diaries by: Lindsey Stanberry, The Automatic Millionaire by: David Bach, Rich Bitch by: Nicole Lapin, The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous, and Broke by: Suze Orman, You Are a Badass at Making Money by: Jen Sincero, The Broke Millennial by: Erin Lowry, Start Late, Finish Rich by: David Bach, Nice Girls Don't Get Rich by: Lois P. Frankel, You've Earned It, Don't Lose It by: Suze Orman,  The Money Class by: Suze Orman, The Money School by Nicole Lapin

I'm so excited to be introducing more finance posts into my blogging schedule. You probably know that I love everything finance - I also have a fresh new degree in finance, and I'm headed to grad school in the fall to get my MBA in finance. My end goal is to become a financial planner. I have learned so many things about personal finance from college, my own personal experiences, and the books and research I've done. I'm not an expert though, and I'll tell you now that I can't be held legally responsible for the advice in this post. BUT, these tips have changed my financial situation in the best way possible.  Personal finance is pretty complicated, and there are a lot of moving parts involved. I've recently realized that so many people my age know nothing about retirement, taxes, or investing. That used to be me, too! The good news is, if you're reading this post, you're likely ready to make some changes to get on top of your finances. Here are the 9 money mistakes I see a lot of young people make, and some advice on how to fix them:


Refinery 29 Money Diaries by: Lindsey Stanberry, The Automatic Millionaire by: David Bach, Rich Bitch by: Nicole Lapin, The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous, and Broke by: Suze Orman, You Are a Badass at Making Money by: Jen Sincero, The Broke Millennial by: Erin Lowry, Start Late, Finish Rich by: David Bach, Nice Girls Don't Get Rich by: Lois P. Frankel, You've Earned It, Don't Lose It by: Suze Orman,  The Money Class by: Suze Orman, The Money School by Nicole Lapin

N O T  C H E C K I N G  Y O U R  B I L L S


This is one of those lessons I kind of learned the hard way. Since I'm an adult now, I have bills...and you probably do too. Every month, we get bills for internet, electricity, water, Netflix, insurance - the list goes on and on. I used to just open the bills and immediately file them because I have autopay set up. That was a big mistake. I can't even tell you how many mistakes I've seen on our bills since I've started checking them more carefully! Occasionally, our internet bill goes up by $20 for no reason (thanks, Charter). When I notice this, I call them, and after a 40 minute phone call, they usually end up taking it off of my bill. The moral of the story is that you should always double check your bills every single month to make sure there are no discrepancies. If you don't, you could be throwing money away. It might seem like only a few dollars here and there, but it sure can add up over time. FYI, you should always be checking your credit card statements the same way to make sure there aren't any double or fraudulent charges.

Action Steps: Next time you get a bill in your mailbox or email inbox, take 5 minutes to look over it. This is really not complicated, and it can save you a lot of hassle in the future. It's all about making it a habit - it might be hard at first, but if you stick with it, it will become second nature!

Refinery 29 Money Diaries by: Lindsey Stanberry, The Automatic Millionaire by: David Bach, Rich Bitch by: Nicole Lapin, The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous, and Broke by: Suze Orman, You Are a Badass at Making Money by: Jen Sincero, The Broke Millennial by: Erin Lowry, Start Late, Finish Rich by: David Bach, Nice Girls Don't Get Rich by: Lois P. Frankel, You've Earned It, Don't Lose It by: Suze Orman,  The Money Class by: Suze Orman, The Money School by Nicole Lapin

P A Y I N G  I N T E R E S T  +  L A T E  F E E S


Please, if you take anything from this post, STOP PAYING LATE FEES. Paying interest and late fees is literally throwing money away. Interest isn't the worst thing in the world. It sucks, but at some points in life it is necessary. I totally get it if some months are tough and you can't pay your whole credit card bill, but for the love of god, DO NOT pay late fees!

Action Steps: Schedule autopay for your credit cards and loans so you don't miss any payments. Do your best to keep a handle on the balance, and try to save a little here and there leading up to the bill being due. If you don't want to set up autopay, you could also try adding the payment due dates to your planner and adding a reminder notification on your phone!

Refinery 29 Money Diaries by: Lindsey Stanberry, The Automatic Millionaire by: David Bach, Rich Bitch by: Nicole Lapin, The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous, and Broke by: Suze Orman, You Are a Badass at Making Money by: Jen Sincero, The Broke Millennial by: Erin Lowry, Start Late, Finish Rich by: David Bach, Nice Girls Don't Get Rich by: Lois P. Frankel, You've Earned It, Don't Lose It by: Suze Orman,  The Money Class by: Suze Orman, The Money School by Nicole Lapin

N O T  T A K I N G  A D V A N T A G E  O F  4 0 1 K  M A T C H


If you have a job currently, do you have a 401k? A majority of employers offer a 401k retirement plan as an employment benefit. If you have one, you should definitely sign up for it. Generally, you can set up a certain percentage of every paycheck to be automatically deposited into your 401k account to save for retirement. Some employers even match your contribution; in simple terms, they give you FREE MONEY for retirement. If your employer offers matching, you absolutely must take advantage of it. It's usually only about 3-4%, but it really adds up over time (and did I mention it's FREE MONEY?!). 

Action Steps: If you don't currently have a 401k, ask the Human Resources department at your job if you're eligible for one and for more details. If you are eligible, sign up ASAP and start saving! There isn't really a wrong way to go about doing this, as long as you aren't missing out on employer matching. 

N O T  S A V I N G  E N O U G H  F O R  R E T I R E M E N T


Yes, I realize that most of my readers are in their twenties, but let me lay a little wisdom on you. You should already have a decent chunk of money saved for retirement. Do you? I'm guessing you probably don't, because 90% of people my age don't. If you're in your twenties (or even younger), you have a major advantage when it comes to retirement. Time is on your side! Time allows you to fully take advantage of the time value of money and the power of compounding interest. Here's what I mean:

If you saved $1,200 a year starting at age 22 and continuing until age 55, you would have around $184,000 when you retire.

If you saved $1,200 a year starting at age 32 and continuing until age 55, you would have around $80,000 when you retire.

Action Steps: The time is now to start saving for retirement. A 401k is a great starter retirement account that's easy for beginners to manage. If you already have one and you're looking to take it to the next level, I'd recommend looking into a Roth IRA. A Roth IRA is a retirement savings tool that allows your money to grow tax deferred; this means that you aren't paying taxes on your investment while it's growing.

Refinery 29 Money Diaries by: Lindsey Stanberry, The Automatic Millionaire by: David Bach, Rich Bitch by: Nicole Lapin, The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous, and Broke by: Suze Orman, You Are a Badass at Making Money by: Jen Sincero, The Broke Millennial by: Erin Lowry, Start Late, Finish Rich by: David Bach, Nice Girls Don't Get Rich by: Lois P. Frankel, You've Earned It, Don't Lose It by: Suze Orman,  The Money Class by: Suze Orman, The Money School by Nicole Lapin

N O T  B U D G E T I N G


The word "budget" scares a lot of people, and it's easy to understand why. A lot of people think having a budget means never being able to have any fun and pinching pennies all day every day. This couldn't be further from the truth! A budget is a necessary tool to keep your finances on track now and in the future. The best thing about budgets is that there isn't a one-size-fits-all budget for everyone. Budgets are easy to create and customize based on your unique circumstances and goals. There's tons of formats you can use to create a budget too, like free apps, a notebook, the notes app on your phone, or a spreadsheet. Moral of the story: you need some kind of budget. You don't need an old school write-everything-down budget if that's not your thing, but you do need to know where your money is going. There are tons of free resources online that can help you set one up and learn how to implement it. When it comes to budgeting, I try to follow the 50/30/20 rule pretty strictly. This "rule" basically means that if you look at your after-tax income, 50% of it should be used for needs (housing, transportation, food), 30% should be used on wants, and 20% should be saved (think: retirement).

Action Steps: Like I mentioned above, there are tons of different ways to go about budgeting. Some good starter apps to create your first budget are Mint, Every Dollar, and You Need a Budget. Or you can start with a good old Google spreadsheet. Honestly, that's what I've had the most success with! It's easy to input formulas and change things around until you find a format that works best for your needs.

I G N O R I N G  Y O U R  F I N A N C E S


Ignoring your finances completely is just as bad (if not worse) than overspending, paying late fees, and every other bad financial decision you could make. The first step is always admitting you have a problem, right? I know that it can be really hard to open up your banking website and feel disappointment and an overwhelming amount of stress sweep over you. The only way you can stop that from happening is by accepting that you need to work on your finances and doing something about it. It will never get any better if you don't! Basically, don't sweep things under the rug.

Action Steps: Something that has been life-changing for me is scheduling weekly finance check-ins with myself. Yes, I actually schedule them into my Google Calendar and planner. Some weeks, I literally just open up all of my bank accounts online and look at them. I look at what I've spent, earned, and reflected on what I could do better. I also sometimes punch my current info into a spreadsheet and calculate some projections for income and expenses in the upcoming months. Do whatever you need to do - but simply taking a mental snapshot of your financial situation every week will literally change your life.

  Refinery 29 Money Diaries by: Lindsey Stanberry, The Automatic Millionaire by: David Bach, Rich Bitch by: Nicole Lapin, The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous, and Broke by: Suze Orman, You Are a Badass at Making Money by: Jen Sincero, The Broke Millennial by: Erin Lowry, Start Late, Finish Rich by: David Bach, Nice Girls Don't Get Rich by: Lois P. Frankel, You've Earned It, Don't Lose It by: Suze Orman,  The Money Class by: Suze Orman, The Money School by Nicole Lapin

N O T  I N V E S T I N G


You might think sticking money under your mattress or in a savings account is a substantial way to save money. But, did you know that with inflation, you will be losing money over time if that is your savings strategy? This is one of the reasons having a basic knowledge of finance is so important. So many people assume that the "good ole way" of saving will work, but it won't. Investing needs to be a part of your strategy, whether it has a major or minor role. Going along with that, diversification is key. If you don't know what that means, diversification is spreading out your money between several different investments. This way, you don't have all your eggs in one basket. If you had 100% of your investments in one company and they went bankrupt, you would lose everything. Diversification is an easy way to give yourself a safety net.

Action Steps: Investing may seem really complicated, but don't worry, it's not! You can even do it from your phone. Apps like Acorns, Stash, and Robinhood walk you through the basics of investing and let you have hands on experience. You're probably not going to become a millionaire just by investing through these apps, but they are a great starting point. 

N O T  S H O P P I N G  S A L E S


I used to go grocery shopping every few weeks at Walmart and buy around $100 of full-priced  groceries. I did some experimenting with using coupons and shopping sales at stores like Festival and Aldi, and I was pleasantly surprised by the results. I end up having to shop a lot more (pretty much weekly) when I shop ad sales, but we save hundreds of dollars a year. It doesn't take that much time, and you can even use the money you saved to invest!

Action Steps: Actually pick up a grocery ad for once (yes, those really do exist), and use a few coupons here and there. You don't have to become a crazy coupon-clipping maniac like you see on tv - you can save a ton of money with very little effort. There are also some really great apps you can download that give you cash back or gift cards as a reward on purchases you make in-store. Some of my favorites are Ibotta, Shopkick, and Receipt Hog.

Refinery 29 Money Diaries by: Lindsey Stanberry, The Automatic Millionaire by: David Bach, Rich Bitch by: Nicole Lapin, The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous, and Broke by: Suze Orman, You Are a Badass at Making Money by: Jen Sincero, The Broke Millennial by: Erin Lowry, Start Late, Finish Rich by: David Bach, Nice Girls Don't Get Rich by: Lois P. Frankel, You've Earned It, Don't Lose It by: Suze Orman,  The Money Class by: Suze Orman, The Money School by Nicole Lapin

N O T  H A V I N G  A  P L A N


It doesn't matter if you're only in your early twenties; you still need to have some kind of an "in case of emergency" plan for your finances. This is something that gets a lot more complex as you get older and grow your assets and family. At this age, there's two things I think you need to focus on here. First, make sure all of your bank accounts/investment accounts has at least one beneficiary listed. A beneficiary is a person or charity who your account would be transferred to if you died. It's also important to periodically revise these as life gets more complex. If you suddenly died tomorrow, would your family know what accounts you kept your money in and what assets you held? In case you weren't aware, your loved ones don't just magically get a check in the mail when you die. They have to contact each and every institution where you held an account to notify them of your passing and begin the lengthy process of distributing your assets to your beneficiaries.

Action Steps: Grab a notebook and a pen, and make a list of every asset you have. An asset is basically something of value - think bank accounts, your car, your home (if you own it). You don't need to go too far into detail here, or you'll be at it all day. However, it's super important to at least have a list of the accounts you hold, the institution you hold them at, and the account number.

Refinery 29 Money Diaries by: Lindsey Stanberry, The Automatic Millionaire by: David Bach, Rich Bitch by: Nicole Lapin, The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous, and Broke by: Suze Orman, You Are a Badass at Making Money by: Jen Sincero, The Broke Millennial by: Erin Lowry, Start Late, Finish Rich by: David Bach, Nice Girls Don't Get Rich by: Lois P. Frankel, You've Earned It, Don't Lose It by: Suze Orman,  The Money Class by: Suze Orman, The Money School by Nicole Lapin

M Y  F A V O R I T E  P E R S O N A L  F I N A N C E  B O O K S

(And trust me, I've read a lot of them)


I've never been a huge reader, but something clicked when I picked up my first personal finance book. I know to a lot of people, reading about finance literally sounds like torture. I'm weird and I love it, so I've read dozens and dozens of them. Because of this, I can give some really awesome recommendations for personal finance books that you can check out if you want to learn more. These books are the best of the best, and the information they teach will stick with you for your whole life. They're all easy reads, and they all give you some amazing concrete tips and advice for getting your financial life in check. Also, included in this post (but not a book) is the The Money School by Nicole Lapin. This online course that guides you through important personal finance topics. It's honestly the best course I've ever taken in my life. I already knew a ton about the concepts covered, but I still learned SO much. If you're ready to get your financial life together, this course is a necessity! 

Back to my favorite finance books; in no particular order, here they are:

Refinery 29 Money Diaries by: Lindsey Stanberry, The Automatic Millionaire by: David Bach, Rich Bitch by: Nicole Lapin, The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous, and Broke by: Suze Orman, You Are a Badass at Making Money by: Jen Sincero, The Broke Millennial by: Erin Lowry, Start Late, Finish Rich by: David Bach, Nice Girls Don't Get Rich by: Lois P. Frankel, You've Earned It, Don't Lose It by: Suze Orman,  The Money Class by: Suze Orman, The Money School by Nicole Lapin

Like anything in life, practice makes perfect. It's hard to learn how to implement things like budgets and saving for retirement into your current lifestyle, but it isn't impossible. The important thing is to stick with it; if you have a bad week and totally derail your budget, don't just give up and stop using it. Accept that it happened and that it sucked, and start the next week fresh. Just because there are bumps in the road doesn't mean you can't be successful with taking control of your finances. I know you can do it!

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