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Marion Syversen Marion Syversen
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Are you making common money mistakes?

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Life is full of surprises. Some of them are wonderful, but some stink. If you could take a few simple steps and avoid a few nasty mishaps from common mistakes, wouldn't you want to do that? I like to avoid unnecessary pain when I can, so I like a plan that incorporates mistake-avoiding steps. Here are the four most common money mistakes, and how to avoid them, from a recent survey.

Mistake #1 Budget - As in not HAVING a budget. According to this report, over half of Americans report not having a budget, and 20 percent have no idea how much they spend on housing, food and entertainment. No one has so much money that one can just make spending a hobby. If you spend without keeping track, life will be crazy, not cozy. In no other part of life do you get anywhere without a general plan. You don't get in your car and make a trip without thinking about your destination and whether you have enough gas to get where you're going. Budgets are a cozy. They are your money's plan for fun and savings, bill paying and your future. They track where you hope to go on your money journey and where you have already gone. A budget is a good thing. Please have one.

Mistake #2 Saving - Forgetting to save - or not knowing how to save - is mistake number two. According to the report, 40 percent of respondents are saving less this year than last, and another 40 percent have no money saved for retirement. Many surveyed reported that they didn't know how to save. I'm not even sort of suggesting that you need to be perfect at any of this, but you do have to try. That's what grownups do. They make proper plans. And when they don't know how to do something, they ask for help. We don't know what you don't understand unless you ask for help. I want to help you! But I don't do Vulcan mind-melds, so you'll have to speak up. Then I will quickly help you.

Mistake #3 - Overspending Overspending? Not your cute self, right? 25 percent of those polled said they are spending more than they did last year. And if spending is part of your plan, part of your budget, that is terrific - but if you have NO budget, it's hard to know what the money plan is for your life. And if overspending is the result of emotion and lack of discipline, honey, that's just not good. Overspending as an ongoing, out of control activity, can hurt you and your family in the short and long run. Take back your money life.

Mistake #4 Credit - Mishandling your credit cards and not handling your credit score comprise mistake number four. It's advised that we all check our credit reports at least once a year. Though that won't give you a credit score, it will help you see what activity is on your credit report. Paying bills on time, outstanding liens and loans are all on your credit report.

Credit reports are available free by going to AnnualCreditReport.com. Other sites may charge money for what is by law available at no cost. AnnualCreditReport.com is the only site recommended by the Federal Trade Commission for a free credit report.

Credit Karma (at CreditKarma.com) can give you an estimated credit score when you create a no-cost account. The significance of your score can be found online through several sites.

So, four common, and avoidable, money mistakes revealed! You can make life cozier by having a budget - and are many kinds of budgets. Just find one that works for you and a method that is suitable for the way you live. No excuses, chickadee.

Make savings automatic - for your Christmas Club, your vacation, for your retirement. It's OK to be confused so long as you ask for help. Ask a buddy, borrow a book from the library, get online and do some research. Learn more about what presently confuses you.

Stop spending like crazy. Self control is beautiful, and it feels great. Instead of feeling shocked when you see your bank balance, you'll say, 'That's what I expected. Bills are paid, money is saved and there is still a bit left for fun.' It's a good feeling to be on track.

And your credit score and wise handling of your credit cards is a grown-up thing to do. No pouting or whining involved in the effort. Just doing the disciplined things that save your money life. You don't have to be boring to be disciplined! But being disciplined helps you sleep better at night and makes dreams doable.

Be cozy and free by avoiding mistakes.

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