The weakening ringgit; food prices continuously rising and stagnant wages may all be contributing to our sorry state of finances, but are we guilty of making things difficult by having one or two bad spending habits ourselves?
Bad spending habits can drain finances without us realising it. Here, we reveal the 7 deadly money sins that could be what is killing your finances faster than the economy.
1. Lust - The Shopaholic
Lusting over everything you see while you shop online or at the mall might feel like a harmless pastime at first. Until, of course you decide to open your wallet and act on those feelings. Lusting over a new gadget release or designer outfit is one thing; giving in to it is what makes all the difference.
Talk about shopping hazards; give in one time too many and you end up drying out your bank account each month well before your next paycheck. Worse and worse, you might even find yourself facing hefty credit card bills.
Fix: Before you give in to the call to buy; ask yourself if you can really afford this or if the money will be better spent on a necessity or simply in your savings. It's also helpful to delay the purchase. Tell yourself to wait a day to see if you really want the item or if it's just an impulse purchase. You might find, after the wait, that you don't really want it all that much anyway.
2. Envy - Keeping up with the Joneses (or Rahims, Chongs and Muthus)
Some of you might be able to relate to the unpleasant feeling of failure when you see others living a more content and luxurious lifestyle. With social media allowing everyone to brag about their purchases; it's even easier to feel like you need to measure up in the spending stakes. You work hard for your money so why can't you enjoy the same luxuries?
To stay on top of the game, you compete by buying the latest gadget, a fancier handbag or more expensive car. Some might go so far as to buy a bigger home or renovate their current abode to be fit for the stars. There's nothing wrong with wanting more for yourself but when you are constantly using other people as a barometer for what you can afford; that's when the trouble starts.
Fix: No doubt having envious stares for having the best possessions is a great, temporary ego booster; it's not the kind of pleasant feeling that lasts in the long run (especially not when the bills arrive!). Instead, why not keep up with your finances instead of your neighbours? Outdo yourself on saving and feel more secure as time goes. The satisfaction of a cushy bank account is a much better feeling in the long-run.
3. Sloth - Overpaying for Convenience
Unlike the animal itself, being slothlike toward your own finances isn't cute. We all have those moments where we are just too lazy to do weekly housekeeping or bill paying. We hire cleaners; personal assistants and financial advisors to do the niggling little things like our taxes because we don't want the added work of doing it ourselves. Sometimes, we pay more to get our car washed, buy our groceries at the nearest store (though not the cheapest), and have our laundry professionally done so we can avoid having to do these menial tasks ourselves.
Whilst, it's a great convenience if one can afford it - constantly opting to have others do our chores for us is added cost that could be saved for something better.
Fix: Where possible, opt to do your laundry, chores and the like yourself. Plan your shopping trips so instead of making many small and expensive excursions to a more expensive mart nearby - you can head to a hypermarket and buy in bulk for a much cheaper price.
4. Greed - Hoarding
Are you a collector of pretty much everything? You collect shoes, rugs, books and just anything that is sold in enough abundance to be collected. Not only does hoarding cost money in the sense that you are buying tonnes of items you don't need; it also costs you in storage space. Renting or buying a bigger home to fit all your collections is not cheap and then think of all the shelving and storage solutions you'll need!
Fix: Hobbies are actually a great way to de-stress and it's awesome that you have one. But perhaps you could limit your hobbies to one or two and preferably hobbies that don't involve accumulating rooms full of stuff.
5. Wrath - The Price of Road Raging
We hear news about road accidents just about everyday. The World Health Organisation (WHO) reported in their Global Status Report on Road Safety that Malaysian drivers ranked as the worst in South East Asia with an average of 23 deaths per 100,000 population over the span of 12 years. Most of the recorded incidents can be attributed to speeding.
As much we understand getting stuck in traffic can leave one feeling impatient and furious, driving recklessly isn't the best way to deal with it. It's not worth sacrificing the life of others and yourself! Even if you do make it through okay; your car may not. Reckless driving puts strain on vehicles, burns added fuel and increases your risk of getting involved in a costly fender-bender or getting a traffic summons.
Even if you think car insurance has you covered: remember that you lose your NCD when you claim.
Fix: Stuck in a jam? Instead of cutting lanes and abusing the emergency lane; listen to some music and relax. You're already in it and you will get out of it- just a matter of time. To avoid getting stuck in the jam in the first place; plan your journeys better to account for traffic situations and give yourself ample time to arrive at your destination.
6. Gluttony - Overdoing Weekend Feel-Good Food and Drinks
You may count your pennies most days but then there are the happy weekends when you think a night of clubbing and fine foods is just what you deserve after a gruelling week of cafeteria fare. Then this one night of food and drink merriment sets you back RM500. Do this just 4 days in a month and you've spent RM2,000 which could be used for something much more more useful.
But even if partying is not your thing; food wastage can occur when you don't plan your shopping trips. When we are hungry, we tend to order too much food or overdo the grocery shopping. However, once we realise that the amount of food is more than we can stomach, it ends up in the trash. The Sundaily reported 8,000 tonnes of food going to waste daily, enough to feed 6 million people. Throwing out leftovers isn't only bad for the environment, it's a waste of your money.
Fix: Set budgets for weekend nights out so you don't end up eating into your reserves as you party. For homebodies, make a shopping list; stick to it and always shop after a good meal. The less hungry you are; the less likely you are to buy a tonne of groceries you don't need.
7. Pride - Worshiping the Gods of Commercialism
Much like the envy money sin; pride is when you believe you must own designer items or the most expensive brand before you can be considered someone of reckoning. You shun shopping discounted goods and go out of your way to pay more for branded items. Whilst being a stickler for quality is not the problem; it's more of being able to balance the need to buy branded with how much you can afford.
Can you really afford RM300 for a pair of headphones when the RM50 set will work just as well? Or perhaps you feel you must upgrade your gadget every time a new release makes an appearance without considering the impact on your bottom line.
Fix: Craft your spending on a delicate balance between quality, quantity and affordability. Yes, the RM500 crock-pot may be better for perfect stews but if you have only RM200 to spend; making that compromise shouldn't detract terribly from the purpose of the item - to simply make a healthy stew.
Don't let this list of 7 deadly sins be your one way ticket to financial purgatory; trying out any one of the fix ideas should help you get on track. Avoid these bad habits and you can be sure to enjoy the luxury where financial stability can brings.