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Money mistakes we all make

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It doesn’t matter whether you’re young or old, married or single, renting or the owner of a mortgage – chances are you’ve probably made a few money mistakes along the way.

Or if you haven’t yet you probably will because money mistakes can hit you at any stage in life.

That’s the view of personal finance expert and CEO of accounting firm A&TA Melissa Browne who said anyone could suffer a money hit, no matter how savvy they are.

The Money Barre founder and author of More Money for Shoes and Fabulous but Broke insists we can all learn from them in order to avoid doing the same thing in future.

While that sounds simple enough, many of us continue to suffer setbacks because we remain reluctant to discuss our finances, she said.

“Sometimes we make mistakes with money that can really set us back and with the ick factor around discussing finances we often don’t get to learn from each other’s mistakes until it’s too late,” she said.

“There are key money mistakes that we make at pivotal times in our lives, but they can be avoided.”

She goes on to detail the seven major risk points in our lives where many of us come unstuck but also reveals the tricks on how to avoid them in the first place.

1. STUDENTS

Ms Browne reckons this can be a risky time for young people who can be tempted to defer a large portion of student life, including debt.

“Yes, it’s tough to work jobs and study but it’s far better to walk away from uni with only a student loan debt rather than a stack of other debts you need to pay back,” she said.

For those who are struggling, the financial guru recommends full time work or part-time study for a year which can help create a savings buffer.

2. NEW WORKERS

According to Ms Browne, many people, especially those who get their first job, have a tendency to spend now and save later, but she warns this is risky and can become a pattern that’s hard to get out of.

“Before you know it, years have passed and you have nothing to show for all your hard work,” she said.

“Sure, you want to enjoy life but get into the habit from the moment you start working to automatically transfer a percentage to a savings account you can’t access.”

3. SINGLETONS

Ms Browne reckons the danger for those who are single is that they literally press pause and wait until they meet a future partner before building a financial plan.

“Singles need to reject the money message that a partner is a financial plan and start building assets yourself,” she said.

“Forge ahead – consider taking in a boarder until you can manage a mortgage on your own or perhaps buy an investment property in your own name and renting instead.”

4. COUPLES

Just because you’re loved up and feeling emotionally secure it doesn’t mean your financial situation will be equally as happy.

Ms Browne reckons many couples, especially those in “the first blush of romance” don’t want to think about protecting themselves financially.

“But nasty STDs (or sexually transmitted debts) can derail us,” she said.

“Money is the number one thing couples fight about so it’s important to talk about it openly.”

She said couples should insist on transparency and understand the financial ramifications of any financial product from buying a phone right through to a house.

5. DINKS (Double Income No Kids)

Yep, even couples without children and plenty of disposable income, also face financial risk.

Ms Browne said the childfree often were in a unique position financially because they had higher discretionary incomes.

According to her, the biggest risk is spending rather than saving.

“The trick is to ensure you are still enjoying life but also understanding what your goals, values and priorities when it comes to money are so you’re tempted to save, not spend,” she said.

6. FAMILIES

When children come into the picture it’s a whole new ball game again.

Ms Browne said the biggest risk parents faced was the idea of keeping up with others.

“We might think we won’t try to keep up with the Joneses but when your friend’s child is going to a private school and has the latest gadgets and your child starts asking for them, are you going to fall into the guilt trap?,” she said.

The author also said it was important to understand that getting yourself into trouble financially wasn’t helpful and could lead to added pressures later.

7. CONSCIOUSLY UNCOUPLING

The big winners in any divorce or separation are the lawyers and with any split, things can get messy quick and that’s aside from the emotional stuff.

Ms Browne reckons the key to avoiding financial heartache is to get good advice early on.
“Whenever possible, agreeing on a fair and equitable split early on means you can start again with more dollars in your pocket,” she said.

“Don’t do what I did and give the entire pot to charity so you start with a clean slate.

“It sounds great in theory but it’s all about looking after yourself financially for the long term.”

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