- Last year, I developed strict budgeting and saving habits that helped me grow my net worth.
- But in Q1 of this year, I stopped those habits, thinking I’d naturally continue them in 2022.
- Ignoring my credit card bills and my budget, and holding onto too much cash, have cost me thousands.
One of my biggest goals for 2022 was to continue to grow my
and make smarter financial decisions. However, when I took a look at the first three months of the year, I realized I didn’t do much to make those things happen.
While I spent most of 2021 sticking to a strict budget and changing my spending habits, I started 2022 a bit more carelessly. The mistakes I made ended up costing me thousands of dollars. Since I caught most of these problems at the start of Q2, I’ve been working hard to make practical changes so I can spend the rest of the year getting back on track with my financial goals.
Here are the mistakes I made in Q1 and what I’m doing now to fix them.
1. Not auditing my credit card bills
During the first few months of the year, I ignored the calendar invites I had set up in advance reminding me to do end-of-the-month audits on my credit card bills. Those meetings were supposed to be stop signs that I could use to identify areas I was overspending and purchases that were unnecessary.
But because my schedule was too busy and I felt too lazy to do this on the weekend, I simply deleted that allotted time to look over my credit card statements. This is one of the factors that led me to have credit card bills 15% higher than in 2021.
To prevent this from happening for the remainder of the year, I put those credit card review sessions back on my calendar and implemented a reward system. If I do these audits to analyze my spending, I treat myself to lunch at my favorite local cafe. If I don’t do these audits, I’m not allowed to step foot in that cafe for 60 days. So far, that system has kept me accountable.
2. Ditching my budget
At the start of 2021, I designed a strict budget, based on my realistic spending categories and savings goals, that I followed every single month for the entire year. I stayed loyal to that budget by tracking spending daily and looking at my finances on a weekly basis.
This year, I felt like I didn’t need a budget and assumed those good habits I picked up last year would stick with me. I was wrong. I spent the first three months of the year not tracking my spending on a daily or weekly basis and found myself upset at the end of the month seeing how much money I wasted.
I noticed that between January and the end of March, I spent $2,500 more than during that time period last year. Without a budget, I found myself more loosely spending on shopping, eating at restaurants, treating myself to extra activities during vacations, and even picking up small items I didn’t really need on a daily basis.
To help me get back to following a budget and spending less money, I’ve reinstated two credit-card-free days during the week (where I only spend cash or don’t spend any money at all) and track my spending on a daily basis. Every night, before I go to sleep, I review all my purchases from the day and update my budget so I know how much I have left to spend for the rest of the month.
While it’s a lot of work, I’ve noticed this is helping me connect with the good habits I learned from last year that save me money every week, from meal prepping to avoiding having to do takeout, to having a set amount of money to spend every day so I’m in control of my finances.
3. Keeping too much cash in my savings account
One of the biggest financial mistakes that I’ve been making for several years now involves keeping too much cash in my savings account.
While some financial experts say you should have just 10 to 20% of your financial portfolio in cash, my breakdown of cash leans closer to 45%. Even though that money is in a high-yield savings account, some of that cash might have been better off growing in other places.
For example, if a chunk of it went into a CD with a 1 to 2% APY, it would be earning much more over time than it is now in a savings account. Or if it went into my SEP IRA retirement account, it could earn more in the market over time than it is now.
Even though a big part of why I keep a lot of my money in a savings account is for a sense of security, I realize it’s costing me thousands of dollars every year that it just sits there. That’s why, for the past few months, I’ve started strategizing a plan for what to do with the extra cash and transferring some of it into a brokerage account, CDs, and my retirement account.