1. Taking Store Credit Card Offers
That 30 percent off is a good deal, if you actually pay off the balance in full right away. Sadly, many people find it way too easy to pay the much smaller minimum payment. Before long, you’re paying the minimum every month and adding more to the store card, and you’re suddenly a credit card revolver who is paying hefty interest charges.
2. Always Choosing the Cheapest Price Tag
Buy cheap, buy twice. If you buy a screwdriver set for $1 at a dollar store, or get your shoes for a few bucks at a flea market stall, chances are you’ll be buying them again real soon. Cheaply made, poor-quality items may save you a few bucks in the short term, but you’ll only have to pay more later to replace them. And if you replace them with more cheap junk, you’ll be repeating the cycle. The only time this is not true is when you’re buying generic brands in the grocery store—you’re often getting the same product that’s in the brand-name packaging.
3. Getting Suckered into Buy-One-Get-One (BOGO) Deals
BOGO, when it’s genuine, is hard to resist. but even then, whether it’s BOGO free or BOGO half price, you have to stop and ask yourself, Would I really have bought this much of this item at this price anyway? If you’re shopping for jam and see BOGO free on jam, that’s probably a great time to stock up. But if you’re looking for a new pair of sneakers and see BOGO half off, stop and think. You went out looking to spend $60 on sneakers. Now you’re spending about $100 after taxes. Did you even want two pairs? Will you wear them both? Do you even like the second pair?Don’t let BOGO make you look like a bozo and have your house fill up with clutter.
4. Prepaying or Making Additional Payments on a Home Mortgage
Debt might always have a negative connotation, but Jeffrey Sklar, managing partner of Sklar, Heyman, Hirshfield & Kantor LLP, says pre-paying and making additional mortgage payments aren’t smart money-saving tips. How come? Your cash could be put to better use and make you more money. ‘Most folks don’t analyze if there is tax benefit to the interest deduction, as well as opportunity cost in taking the funds from a potential investment with a better rate of return,’ he explains.
5. Buying Life Insurance Equal to 7x Your Annual Salary
There’s a lot wrong with this statement, according to Deglow. First and foremost, he notes, not everyone needs life insurance. ‘If there isn’t anyone who would become financially compromised should you pass prematurely and you have enough assets to pay off your liabilities, life insurance may not be a necessity,’ he explains. However, if you do have a spouse and/or children, you need to crunch the numbers to fully understand how much you’re setting aside. As an example, John Deglow, CFP, AIF, at Unified Trust Company, explains someone who brings in $100K a year and opts for a $700K life insurance benefit, might be shortchanging their family. ‘Withdrawing 4 percent of $700,000 would provide only $28,000 annually for your family. A more aggressive withdrawal rate of 6 percent provides $42,000, again much less than the family was accustomed to,’ he shares. And to make it more complicated, he notes this doesn’t address other liabilities, such as mortgages, credit cards, student loans, and more. His advice? Your life insurance should be as much as 20 times more than your income.