10 Worst Ways You’re Unknowingly Sabotaging Your Savings

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One way or another, we all sabotage ourselves. It’s the human condition.

We put obstacles in our own way. We make excuses to ourselves. We are our own worst enemies.

It’s the same with money. Ask yourself, Why don’t I have more money? It’s because we all let bad financial habits creep up on us. We undermine our own chances of financial success. We’re stealing from ourselves.

Here are 10 ways people sabotage their own finances, and what you can do instead.

1. Thinking You Don’t Have Enough Money to Invest in Real Estate

Yes, the stock market certainly is scary. Stock prices shoot up and down like a roller coaster ride, and who knows when the whole thing might crash?

It would be nice to diversify and invest some of your money in real estate, but don’t you have to be wealthy to do that?

Now you can invest like the 1% does, and all you need to get started is $500. A company called DiversyFund will invest your money in commercial real estate — specifically, in apartment complexes that it owns — and you only need $500.

Real estate can potentially earn you more money than the stock market. Over the long term, investing in the stock market will earn you an average annual return of 7%, adjusted for inflation, according to a number of studies. DiversyFund can’t guarantee how its investments will perform in the future — no one can — but historically, it has earned an annual return of 17% to 18%.

So you don’t need a fortune to invest in real estate. All you need to get started is $500.

2. Putting off Life Insurance (Policies Start at $16/Month)

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Have you thought about how your family would manage without your income after you’re gone? How will they pay the bills? Send the kids through school?

Now’s a good time to start planning for the future by looking into a term life insurance policy.

You’re probably thinking: I don’t have the time or money for that. But your application can take minutes — and you could leave your family up to $1 million with a company called Bestow.

Rates start at just $16 a month. The peace of mind of knowing your family is taken care of is priceless.

If you’re under the age of 54 and want to get a fast life insurance quote without a medical exam or even getting up from the couch, get a free quote from Bestow.

3. Assuming You’ll Never Be Able to Invest in Amazon or Google

Take a look at the Forbes Richest People list, and you’ll notice almost all the billionaires have one thing in common — they own a company.

But if you work for a living and don’t happen to have millions of dollars lying around, that can sound totally out of reach.

That’s why a lot of people use the app Stash. It lets you be a part of something that’s normally exclusive to the richest of the rich — buying pieces of other companies for as little as $1.*

That’s right — you can invest in pieces of well-known companies, such as Amazon, Google or Apple, for as little as $1.**

The best part? When these companies profit, so can you. Some companies even send you a check every quarter for your share of the profits, called dividends.

It takes two minutes to sign up, plus Stash will give you a $5 sign-up bonus once you deposit $5 into your account.

4. Telling Yourself Your Credit Score is Hopeless

Here’s one way that lots of us sabotage ourselves: By not keeping track of our credit score.

Your credit score is important because the higher your score, the better deal you’ll get on a mortgage, a car loan, a credit card, or even a deposit on a car rental or an apartment.

So if you’re looking to get your credit score back on track — or even if it is on track and you want to bump it up — try using a free website called Credit Sesame.

Within two minutes, you’ll get access to your credit score, any debt-carrying accounts and a handful of personalized tips to improve your score. You’ll even be able to spot any errors holding you back (one in five reports have one).

James Cooper, of Atlanta, used Credit Sesame to raise his credit score nearly 300 points in six months.*** “They showed me the ins and outs — how to dot the I’s and cross the T’s,” he said.

Getting your free credit score takes less than two minutes.

5. Not Using Up Your Entire Paycheck

No, we’re not talking about going to Whole Foods and buying out its fancy cheese supply. Instead, we’re talking about creating a zero-based budget, a budget that finds a place for your every dollar.

You’ll want to start by tracking a month of expenses. How much do you (or don’t you) have remaining? Then, consider your financial goals. Do you want to save money? Invest money? Pay off debt?

Work backward to cut your expenses until you can achieve that goal. It might take some patience, but it’ll pay off.

This is a smart, proactive way to make sure that you’re not hamstringing yourself by spending haphazardly.

6. Wasting Hundreds on Homeowners Insurance

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You’re probably wasting money right now. And it’s probably on something you’d never expect — your homeowners insurance policy.

This isn’t something you actively think about — you just know you’re required to have it.

The problem is, you’re paying too much. Luckily, an insurance company called Policygenius makes it easy to find out how much you’re overpaying.

Policygenius’ policies start at just $25/month. And just because you’re saving money doesn’t mean you’re skimping on coverage. Policygenius will make sure you have what you need.

Just answer a few questions about your home to get started.

7. Not Canceling Your Car Insurance

When was the last time you shopped around for car insurance? Was it more than six months ago?

If so, you’re probably overpaying — by hundreds of dollars. Yep. Experts say you should compare rates twice a year to get the best deal.

Twice a year? Yeah, we don’t want to do that either.

A service called Gabi does all the shopping for you to find cheaper insurance — with the same coverage and deductibles you already have. And it saves customers an average of $825 a year.

You don’t have to fill out any forms. Just link your existing insurance account and enter your driver’s license, and it will start looking for cheaper coverage.

Plus, after you sign up, Gabi will keep looking for savings. No more shopping.

8. Not Growing Your Wealth by Learning From Others

We sabotage ourselves by letting bad financial habits creep into our lives and stick around, slowly and steadily draining our bank accounts.

One of the best ways to get your money in order? Learning from others! These could be the millionaires themselves, personal finance experts or real-life people who’ve had success. Search the internet for blogs and websites, listen to podcasts and read books.

Here are a few of our favorite resources (ahem, besides ourselves):

  • “How to Money” podcast
  • “The Total Money Makeover” by Dave Ramsey
  • “The Side Hustle Show” podcast
  • “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” by Robert Kiyosaki
  • “The Money Nerds Podcast “
  • “The Richest Man in Babylon” by George Samuel

9. Watching Videos Online — But Not Getting Paid For It

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If we told you that you could get paid to watch videos on your computer, you’d probably laugh.

It’s too good to be true, right?

But we’re serious. A website called InboxDollars will pay you to watch short video clips online. One minute you might watch someone bake brownies and the next you might get the latest updates on Kardashian drama.

All you have to do is choose which videos you want to watch and answer a few quick questions about them afterward.

InboxDollars won’t cover your full rent, but it’s an easy way to bank a little extra while you’re already on the couch tonight wasting time on your phone.

Unlike other sites, InboxDollars pays you in cash — no points or gift cards — so you can put the money directly toward rent. It’s already paid its users more than $56 million.

It takes about one minute to sign up, and you’ll immediately earn a $5 bonus to get you started. You can cash out once you hit $30.

10. Not Cutting Your Cell Phone Service to as Little as $5/Month

Here’s a big way we all sabotage ourselves: We overpay.

Take your cell phone bill, for example. How long have you been with your provider? Probably awhile, right? Which means you’re probably paying way too much.

But we found a discount wireless company called Tello that offers plans starting at just $5 a month. How much are you paying now? Exactly. Imagine cutting that to just $5.

Tello operates on Sprint’s nationwide network, offering 4G LTE data everywhere Sprint does. It lets you choose a wireless plan based on how many minutes and how much data you want, and you can even use Tello’s coverage tool to see how strong its network is where you live.

You can bring your own phone (Tello works with any Sprint-compatible phone), or buy a new one through them. Even better — there are no early termination or activation fees, no contracts or phone-exclusive plans, no tricks of any kind.

If you decide you don’t like it, you can always just change your mind. See how much you could save here.

In conclusion: Stop the financial self-sabotage. Give yourself a break and stop taking a wrecking ball to your finances.

Mike Brassfield ([email protected]) is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. He tries not to sabotage himself too much.

*For Securities priced over $1,000, purchase of fractional shares starts at $0.05.

**You’ll also bear the standard fees and expenses reflected in the pricing of the ETFs in your account, plus fees for various ancillary services charged by Stash and the custodian.

The Penny Hoarder is a Paid Affiliate/partner of Stash. Investment advisory services offered by Stash Investments LLC, an SEC-registered investment adviser. This material has been distributed for informational and educational purposes only, and is not intended as investment, legal, accounting, or tax advice. Investing involves risk. 

***Like Cooper, 60% of Credit Sesame members see an increase in their credit score; 50% see at least a 10-point increase, and 20% see at least a 50-point increase after 180 days.

Credit Sesame does not guarantee any of these results, and some may even see a decrease in their credit score. Any score improvement is the result of many factors, including paying bills on time, keeping credit balances low, avoiding unnecessary inquiries, appropriate financial planning and developing better credit habits.