In a world overflowing with financial advice, like when you should start contributing to a 401(k), or how much you should be saving now to become a millionaire by 60, and so on and so forth – sometimes it’s good to get a new perspective. That’s why we’d like to present you with some financial advice from the other end of the spectrum: the financial moves you should be avoiding at all costs!
• Taking a Payday Loan
Even if you’re in a tight financial situation, we still recommend holding out on going to a payday advance location. We can almost guarantee that the resulting fees are not worth the advance. While the initial fee to borrow the money may only be about $15, it’s the interest rates that catch people off guard. Every two weeks that you do not pay back your loan in full, you get slapped with an additional $15 finance fee, making the average annual interest rate about 391 percent according to the Federal Trade Commission. If you’re really in a bind, consider a small loan company or a loan from your credit union instead. Their interest rates are much more competitive than your typical payday loan location. If you are not habitually coming up short on funds, you can also try contacting your creditors to ask for more time. Credit companies are usually willing to help customers that they believe are acting in good faith.
• Not Having an Emergency Fund
While putting money into a fund that you may never use might not seem very appealing, the relief you’ll feel in the event of an emergency will make it all worthwhile. Having three months’ worth of living expenses for your family is a good start, while six months is ideal. These funds should only be touched in the case of an actual emergency, such as unexpected medical expenses or the loss of one’s job.
• Not Investing
We know why investing can be hard for some people: you’re entrusting others with your hard earned money or perhaps you are scared by the volatility of the stock market. But if you aren’t getting your money to work for you, you can never stop working. A retirement account, such as your employer’s sponsored plan, is practically a must! Tax-deferred accounts that accumulate tax free, such as IRA’s, are also a great way to put your money to work. A qualified financial advisor will be able to help you determine how much risk you can tolerate so that you won’t have any major shocks from the markets ups and downs.
• Paying Your Bills Late
Paying your bills late can hurt your credit score significantly, and once it’s down it’s very hard to improve. Not to mention, you’re probably paying unnecessary late fees. If it boils down to you forgetting to pay them, try setting reminders on your phone.
• Dipping into Your Retirement Savings to Pay off Debt
It’s easy to take money out of your retirement account, but boy is it hard to put back in! While it might seem like a quick fix for your debt struggles, it sets you up for future hardships and potentially years more work. Not to mention, taking out money early from your retirement means you’ll also be paying taxes and fees on that withdrawal. If taking from your retirement money truly is your only option, you must still act as if there is a debt to pay off – only now it is to your retirement account.
The trusted advisors here at Walsh & Associates are here to help you navigate around these financial predicaments, with helpful solutions developed through years in the business. In fact, our Red Flag Audit® process helps us find the unsafe aspects of your financial environment. We highly encourage you to reach out to us if you are at all worried about your financial decisions.