| May 2, 2012

Getting ‘too comfortable’ with finances may impede growth

Most consumers have a money management routine that helps them plan out when to pay their bills, how much to spend on groceries each week and the amount to put toward savings and retirement each month. Routines can be beneficial in a number of ways. They help busy consumers remember when their bills are due and allow adults to develop a consistent savings pattern.

However, getting too comfortable with a money management routine can also result in missed opportunities to correct behaviors that may be hindering financial growth, according to the New York Times. When consumers get in the habit of following the same budget or paying the same credit card amount each month, they may fail to take certain life or financial changes into account that should prompt them to reevaluate their spending.

For example, consumers who pay the same amount each month to chip away at their credit card debt may be missing out on the chance to lower their balance even more. Negotiating credit card rates and putting more toward a dwindling balance can help them eliminate their debt more quickly. The same holds true for service bills, such as cellphones and cable packages. Because consumers may be used to shelling out $90 for their cellphone bill, they may fail to realize that they are not using all of the features they are paying for that are inflating their bill. For these reasons, consumers should take a hard look at how much they're paying in bills each and every month to catch circumstances they should change.

In addition, consumers who examine their budgets each month may see that they are not devoting as much to savings, retirement or their emergency fund as they are financially able to. It's easy to fall into the habit of contributing a particular dollar amount to a savings fund each month, because many carry the idea that as long as they're saving money, the amount doesn't really matter. But putting as little as $30 more into savings every two weeks translates into an additional $720 each year.

Consumers can benefit from going through their budgets and seeking out areas where they can afford to squeeze more out of their income. Trimming the fat from their budgets allows adults to pay down debt more quickly and contribute more to savings, both of which are effective and time-tested wealth-building tools.

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