We all have our vices. Whether it’s alcohol, social media, online shopping, or staying up late, we all have financial weaknesses that that can sabotage our financial well-being and cost us. I call this your financial kryptonite.
For me, my financial kryptonite is online shopping. I can easily spend hours browsing Instagram, looking at clothes, shoes, and accessories, adding items to my cart, and convincing myself that I need them. Before I know it, I’ve spent hundreds of dollars on things that I don’t really need.
If you’re not careful, your financial kryptonite can stretch your paycheck thin and leave you struggling to make ends meet. But there is hope!
Here are the most common examples of money kryptonite and how to beat them
There are some common financial weaknesses – and once you identify them, you can start taking steps to beat them.
1. Living paycheck to paycheck
If you’re always just barely scraping by, you’re not alone. As of August 2022, 41% of consumers were living paycheck to paycheck. The problem with that? It comes with a whole host of problems including increased financial stress and a reduced ability to accomplish money goals.
If you’re living paycheck to paycheck, it’s time to take a hard look at your spending and learn how to stretch your paycheck. With inflation rising, your discretionary spending shrinks because more goes toward necessities like your housing, utilities, and food.
Track where every penny goes for one month, then see where you can cut back. Even small changes can make a big difference. Try cooking at home more often instead of eating out, for instance, or cutting back on your cable bill.
2. Credit cards – another financial weakness
If you’re carrying a balance on your credit cards, you’re likely paying a lot in interest charges. This interest costs you. Work on paying down your debt as quickly as possible so you can start saving money. One helpful way to do this is to transfer your balance to a card with a lower interest rate.
3. Financial kryptonite – retirement planning
It’s never too early to start saving for retirement. If you don’t have a 401(k) at work, open up an IRA and start contributing as much as you can each month. The sooner you start saving, the more time your money has to grow.
4. Not having an emergency fund – the financial weakness that can derail your progress
If you don’t have any savings set aside for emergencies, you could find yourself in serious financial trouble if something unexpected comes up. Start by setting aside $1,000 in a savings account, then work on building it up from there.
One of the biggest financial mistakes you can make is not being properly insured. Whether it’s health insurance, life insurance, or auto insurance, not having the right coverage can be your financial kryptonite. Make sure you’re adequately protected against any potential risks.
6. Sleep – the financial kryptonite that hits you while you’re awake
You might not think of sleep as a financial issue, but it can be. Studies have shown that being sleep-deprived can lead to poor decision-making, which can in turn impact your finances. If you’re not getting enough shut-eye, it’s time to make some changes. Establish a bedtime routine and stick to it as much as possible. You’ll feel better – and make better financial decisions – as a result.
7. Workplace benefits
If your employer offers benefits like a 401(k) match or health insurance, make sure you’re taking advantage of them. Not doing so is leaving money on the table – and that’s never a good idea. During your company open enrollment, take the steps to make the most of your employee benefits so your benefits don’t become your financial kryptonite.
8. Bills, bills, bill
If you’re always scrambling to pay your bills on time, it’s time to get organized. Set up a system for tracking when bills are due and make sure you have the money in your account to cover them. Automating your bill payments can also help. That way, you’ll never have to worry about being late – or incurring costly late fees – again.
Pro-tip: Use a money tracking app like Nav.it so you can plan for every payment and spot unused subscriptions.
9. Impulse buying
We all have weaknesses, and for some of us, it’s shopping. If you can’t seem to resist a good deal, start by figuring out your triggers. Do you make impulse purchases scrolling online late at night? Unsubscribe from promotional emails and unfollowing ads on social media. Then, when you’re feeling the urge to shop, give yourself a 24-hour cooling-off period before making a purchase. Chances are, you’ll forget all about it by then.
If you’re not comfortable negotiating, you could be leaving money on the table. Whether it’s haggling over the price of a car or asking for a raise at work, learning to negotiate can have a big impact on your finances. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want – you might be surprised at what you can get.
Drinking can impact your financial decisions in many ways. It can lead to lower inhibitions that impact poor decision-making, impulsive spending. It can also make you less likely to negotiate for a better deal. If you want to keep your finances in order, it’s important to be aware of how drinking can impact your money management skills.
Here’s how to identify and beat your financial kryptonite.
First, take a close look at your spending habits. What are you spending money on that you could cut back on? For me, it’s online shopping. I’ve had to make a conscious effort to limit my time spent browsing online stores and only buy items when I really need them.
Next, find ways to avoid your financial kryptonite. If online shopping is your downfall, delete your credit card information from online stores and unsubscribe from promotional emails. If you’re trying to cut back on drinking, avoid bars and happy hours with friends.
Also, have a plan in place for when you do slip up. If you overspend one month, plan to save extra money the next month. If you go out drinking and spend too much, commit to staying in the next weekend.
Finally, if you think a little support could help, don’t be afraid to reach out to family and friends. Intimidated by the prospect of being vulnerable financially? Try working with a money coach through the Nav.it money app to increase your accountability. After all, you’re more likely to achieve your goals with an accountability buddy.
No one is perfect and we all have our kryptonites. But by being aware of your financial weakness and avoiding it, you can take control of your finances and reach your financial goals.