The difference between someone who is financially secure and someone who is not, often has more to do with avoiding wealth destruction than earning a bigger salary or receiving a windfall.
As the saying goes, “a fool and his money are easily parted.” Smart money choices are a great predictor of financial success. If you want to be financially free, you need to avoid the following wealth-destroying behaviours.
Spending your future savings
When you start working it is so easy to maximise your credit and buy everything you want now.
The problem is that you will pay it back and then some. You will spend the next several years paying off things from the past, leaving you with no money to start saving for the dreams you really want to achieve.
Not preparing for emergencies
Emergencies and unexpected expenses are the number one reason people fall into debt.
A big catastrophe like losing your job, crashing your car or getting sick can wipe out your savings.
If you want to protect your wealth, have an emergency fund for those day-to-day unexpected events and take out insurance for those less frequent, but greater financial catastrophes.
Spending too much on that wedding
There are so many things you will want to do as a married couple, like buy a home, travel and start a family.
If you wiped out your savings, or worse, took out debt to pay for the wedding, you will find your dreams of a married life becoming a financial nightmare.
Financial stress is the number one cause of divorce, so don’t let your special day ruin the very thing it is supposed to celebrate.
Cashing in when moving jobs
Every time you change jobs and cash out your retirement savings, you set your retirement date back several years.
If you cash in at the age of 30, you reduce your retirement income by one-third. In order to play catch-up you would either have to increase your retirement contribution by 22% or delay your retirement by five years.
The earlier you start and the longer you leave your money, the less you actually need to save.
Investing too conservatively
There are simply not enough paycheques before retirement to fund your retirement years, so you have to invest in an asset that will grow above the rate of inflation.
If you put 15% of your salary away each month, but simply put it in a jar in the kitchen, inflation would erode those savings to the extent that you would only have two years of your annual salary available at retirement.
If you invested the money in a money market account earning in line with inflation, you would have only 6 times your annual salary.
If, however, you invest 15% of your salary for 40 years in a balanced fund with an average return of 5 percentage points above inflation, you would have 17 times your annual salary on retirement.
This article first appeared in City Press.