Ah, Groundhog Day. The day each year we find out if spring will arrive early…or if there will be six more weeks of winter.
But, instead of celebrating our favorite rodent this year, we decided to pay homage to Groundhog Day the movie, starring Evanston’s own Bill Murray.
For those unfamiliar with the 1993 comedy, Murray’s character, TV reporter Phil Connors, travels to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, to cover the annual Groundhog Day festival. Connors despises the event and wants to leave town as soon as possible. Unfortunately, a blizzard strands him there for another night.
The next day, Connors wakes up to discover it’s once again Feb. 2. The next day? Feb. 2, and it happens again and again. No matter what he tries, Connors is stuck in Punxsutawney on Groundhog Day.
After recently rewatching the classic, we got to thinking: What financial mistakes do we make over and over that leave us—and our finances—stuck in a time loop? With Groundhog Day in mind, let’s examine how to fix these four common financial mistakes we continually make.
1. Reoccurring charges
Netflix, Hulu, Spotify…there are a lot of streaming services, and that was before Disney Plus burst onto the scene. The cost of all these services can quickly add up, and even surpass a monthly cable bill.
Gym memberships are another popular reoccurring fee that, depending on how often you go, might not be worth it. Other charges you could see on your monthly statement might include meal kit services or pet toy subscriptions.
The fix: Checking your monthly bank or credit card statements is a good habit to get into, but the biggest issue is being honest with yourself—Will I actually go to the gym? Do I really need to watch The Mandalorian?—when it comes to determining whether you need a service
If combing through your statement is too tedious, there are several apps that can find reoccurring charges, like Truebill, Trim, and SubscriptMe.
2. Not having a budget
Having a budget is arguably the most important step you can take for your personal finances in both the short and long term. A budget helps you know how much you can afford to spend at dinner on Saturday night, and also keeps you on track for retirement. However, many people don’t set one because they either don’t know how, or are scared of what they might uncover about their spending habits.
The fix: Make a budget! There are a variety of ways to build a comprehensive budget, and several different strategies out there. The most common is the 50/30/20 budget—50% of income for needs, 30% for wants, 20% for savings and debt—but you can create a budget that fits your specific goals.
3. Grocery shopping without a list
Shopping for anything without a list (or a purpose) is dangerous for your wallet, but planning ahead is an easy way to save money. After all, grocery stores are full of potential impulse purchases, such as ready-made dishes the candy and soda surrounding the checkout line.
The fix: Decide what meals you want for the week and which ingredients you’ll need. Look through the refrigerator, cabinets, and pantry to make sure you actually need the items on your list, and stick to it. A grocery list not only helps out your wallet—hello, meal planning, goodbye, eating out—but can also benefit your health.
4. Not planning ahead for big expenses
Have you recovered from all that holiday spending? The holidays can be a busy—and expensive—time of year because of travel and gifts. The same goes for spring break and the summer months, especially for those who go on one big vacation or several smaller trips.
While these activities are fun, the financial ramifications are often felt long after we return home.
The fix: Open separate savings accounts for holiday spending and travel, and automatically have a portion of your paycheck sent to each account. You don’t have to necessarily figure out the expenses for your summer camping trip months in advance. But, having an extra few hundred dollars in your vacation fund will make payments that much easier to stomach when they’re due and help keep the rest of your budget on track.
Break free from the time loop
Spoiler alert: Phil Connors finally woke up on Feb. 3, even though it seemed like it would never come. Better days for your finances lie ahead, as well, even though sometimes it might feel like you’re stuck in a time loop. By identifying and addressing your financial mistakes, you can take steps to make tomorrow different—and better—than today.
If you’re interested in seeing a better financial tomorrow, open a savings account with us today.